LAHORE: In a last-ditch attempt to get opposition parties on board with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) proposed Raiwind rally, PTI’s Aleem Khan on Monday rejected the idea that the protest will take place outside the prime minister’s Jati Umrah residence.
“Our opposition thinks the march will be near PM Nawaz Sharif’s house, but it’s not. It is 5-11 kilometres away from his house,” Aleem Khan said in an apparent response to Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah’s reservations about the march.
Shah earlier said “We will never support the idea of staging a demonstration outside the residence of any opponent.”
Leaders of the PPP, the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and the Awami National Party (ANP) told Dawn on Sunday that they had no plans to participate in any protest outside the prime minister’s residence.
“We don’t want to attack his house… Raiwind is just like any other area in Lahore,” Aleem Khan said, adding that just because someone’s house in a certain area does not mean a rally cannot be staged there.
“They [members of the opposition] are not from Lahore, they don’t know this place is far from Nawaz Sharif’s house,” the PTI leader said. The march, he said, “has nothing to do with the prime minister’s residence, except that one path leads towards his house”.
“It will be a peaceful protest. This is a guarantee to the entire nation,” Khan said. “I request the police and government not to intervene, otherwise there will be retaliation… We [the PTI] will monitor the path leading towards Jati Umrah ourselves, we guarantee this,” he said.
Earlier this year, the PPP and PTI appeared to be on the same page regarding the Panama leaks and had expressed their intention to take to the streets several times.
This closeness continued for months, with the opposition parties holding meetings regarding the formation of the Panamagate commission and its terms of reference.
The PPP is now planning its own series of rallies and public meetings in Punjab, to be led by Mr Bhutto-Zardari, at the end of this month or in the first week of October.
Khursheed Shah told Dawn that the party was planning public meetings to protest against PM Sharif’s alleged role in corruption and money laundering.
Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek, which had joined the PTI’s sit-in outside Parliament House in 2014 ─ and the two parties held rallies in Lahore and Rawalpindi on the same day earlier this month ─ has already distanced itself from the PTI’s Raiwind rally.