The political atmosphere in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi is uncertain with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) calling for countrywide protests on Friday after police stormed a youth convention of the party and arrested activists in the federal capital late on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Awami Muslim League (AML) has vowed to go ahead with its plan of holding a political meeting despite imposition of a ban on public gatherings.
PTI’s top brass, including Asad Omer and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has been stationed at the residence of Imran Khan in Banigala. They reviewed the situation and made preparations in connection with today’s protest rally.
Normal traffic can be witnessed on the Murree road, the main artery connecting lying between Rawalpindi and Islamabad, as education institutes, offices and businesses function as usual in the twin cities. However the turnings on the road that leads to Lal Haveli, where an a AML gathering is scheduled for the afternoon, have been blocked with placement of containers.
Authorities have suspended the Metro Bus Service in the twin cities “till further orders”. Although skeleton staff was present, entrance gates of all bus stops have been locked for public since Thursday evening.
Section 144 was imposed in the twin cities a day earlier, leading to a ban on public gatherings and usage of loudspeakers.
PTI’s plan for today
PTI leaders have devised an strategy for the day and decided to record their protest through an already planned programme. Imran Khan directed party workers to reach at Banigala by 1pm and announced to take out a rally from his residence to Lal Haweli in Rawalpindi where a political convention had already been planned.
Situation at Banigala
Late in the night, three busses of frontier constabulary reached near the residence of PTI supremo and personnel were deployed in the area. Deployment of police contingent also begun in the area in early morning, however PTI volunteers have also took positions in front of Khan’s residence. One of the PTI volunteer claimed that around 2500 party workers have already reached at Banigala.
District Coordination Officer (DCO) Rawalpindi Talat Mahmood Gondal has ordered to impose Section 144 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC), banning public gatherings and usage of loud speaker for two day with effect from Oct 28 to 29.
The convention was scheduled as a warm up exercise ahead of Nov 2 showdown by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). AML, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) of Tahir-ul-Qadri, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) have announced to join the sit-in. PTI chief Imran Khan says tsunami of people will compel.
Since last night, all the five ways leading to Shaikh Rashid’s residence Lal Haveli where Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan is also due to address a gathering, have been sealed. Shops around the area were also sealed by authorities a night ahead of the announced convention.
Shaikh Rashid, who slept at a friends’s residence last night, appeared at Committee Chowk in the morning where he reiterated his vow to hold a programme after Friday prayers at every cost. He said that the convention would be held at the Committee Chowk as administration had sealed roads to Lal Haveli where the program was scheduled. Earlier, Rashid in a video statement urged his followers to offer Friday prayers in near by mosques and assemble at Lal Haveli.
Earlier on Thursday, he announced to “tear Section 144 into 144 pieces” as the administration announced to impose Section 144 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC). “On Nov 2, Rawalpindi will be closed down no matter what anyone does,” he stated.
Meanwhile, police arrested scores of PTI activists, attending a youth convention in Islamabad. Subsequently, Imran Khan announced to hold protest demonstration across the country.
PTI, federal govt lock horns
PTI and the government have locked horns over Panama Papers leaks. After months of verbal war between the parties, Imran Khan is now going to showdown in Islamabad on Nov 2, demanding of the prime minister to resign or present himself for accountability. Imran claims that revelations in Panama Papers are proof of the PM’s corruption so he should be right off from his office, while the PML-N accused Khan of creating anarchy and claimed that the party leadership and his family were ready for accountability through proper channel.