The Metro Bus Service was suspended on Sunday after scores of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers holding a demonstration near Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s house in Model Town blocked the Metro Bus lane and burnt tyres and vandalised streetlights. Police officials tried to disperse the protesters but did not arrest any of them. Police sealed several entrances to Model Town with barbed wire and containers. The protest was going on when this report was filed.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers blocked roads for traffic in several areas, burned tyres and chanted slogans against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in protest against police action against party workers in Islamabad on Saturday night. Demonstrations were held at Shahdara Chowk, Thokar Niaz Beg, Shalimar Chowk and Garhi Shahu.
The protesters demanded the prime minister and chief minister resign their posts immediately.
Dozens of PTI supporters participated in the demonstration at Thokar Niaz Beg. They blocked the road with stones and burned tyres. Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rashid addressed the demonstration at Thokar Niaz Beg. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif must resign or the people of Pakistan would drag them out of their houses. “Our agitation will not stop till we receive their resignations.”
Rashid said, “The government has imposed Section 144 in the province but the PTI will hold demonstrations anyway.” [The government has not banned assembly, protests or rallies.]
He said the protests would continue till the Sharifs resigned. He said police violence against PTI and PAT workers in Islamabad spoke of a dictatorial mindset.
Rashid said police were harassing PTI workers all over the province. He warned police not to take any action against PTI workers. He said demonstrations had been organised at Faisalabad, Multan, Sheikhupura, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin, Sahiwal, Okara, Jehlum, Attock, Chakwal, Sargodha, DG Khan and Narowal.
“Our workers will only block roads. They will be peaceful. They will not take the law into their hands. Police should not hinder their demonstrations,” he said.
PTI Secretary General Dr Yasmin Rashid addressed supporters at Thokar Niaz Beg. She said tear-gassing unarmed protesters and baton-charging them was highly condemnable.
She said the protesters had stayed peaceful for 16 days but the government had used state machinery against them. “Imran Khan has been fighting for people’s rights for 18 years. No one can stop him from creating a new Pakistan.”
She said the courage of PTI workers was laudable. She urged them to stand by their leader till the revolution came about. “It is the right of every citizen to hold peaceful demonstrations… nobody can deny us this right,” she said.
PTI Punjab president Ejaz Chaudhary also condemned targeting media personnel and PAT, PTI workers. He said this was an attack on the freedom of media, the PTI will not allow that.
PTI MPA Dr Murad Ras said he was leading a peaceful protest at Liberty Chowk on Saturday night when he was beaten up by some police officials.
A Lahore police spokesperson told The Express Tribune that no cases had been registered against PTI workers on Sunday. “The protesters violated Section 144 in several areas but no FIR has been registered so far. We will take action against them later.”
Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique said the government had given PTI and PAT workers a free hand to hold demonstrations but they had tried to enter sensitive premises and had to be stopped. In a statement, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri wanted to turn Pakistan into a war zone.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2014.