LAHORE: Although the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has declared December 15 Lahore jalsa a success, the hosting party, PML-N, is introspecting why it failed to pull a bigger crowd.
Speaking to Geo Pakistan on Tuesday, Geo News’ Lahore Bureau Chief Raees Ansari said the matter was discussed “between the lines” during yesterday’s party meeting. “Obviously, they monitored the jalsa. They know what the situation was when Nawaz Sharif was delivering his speech.”
Ansari said the matter was not openly discussed but some leaders questioned organisers’ inability to pull a large crowd and emphasised that the public gathering did not go the way it should have. He said Maryam Nawaz acknowledged the unsaid and stated that there should be accountability in the party and the organisers should be questioned.
The bureau chief said Opposition had created "too much" hyper ahead of the public gathering, highlighting Maryam taking to the streets to mobilise support. "They created this perception that the entire Minar-e-Pakistan would be packed and this would be a historic jalsa."
Ansari said the area itself spans over 125 acres and the jalsa ground was of 300,000 square feet - excluding the stage, the remaining area would be around 260,000 square feet which can hold a crowd of about 28,000.
But the crowd, he noted, mostly came from outside the city as very few of the Lahoriites made it to the jalsa. "The party could not mobilise Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz's support base. The interior city of Lahore backs Hamza, if they had come the ground be jam-packed."
Ansari said his sources had revealed party coordinators backed by Shahbaz and Hamza were removed from the organisers’ list. “I think Shahbaz and Hamza are not on board with the narrative being pushed by Nawaz and Maryam. I had asked Hamza recently if he supported the long march and resignations, he kept quiet. He neither accepted nor denied.”
The bureau chief, however, does not think a long march would make a difference. “Imran Khan stayed in Islamabad for four and a half months but the government stayed. PDM can also try but if PML-N wants to mobilise support, it needs to get Shahbaz and Hamza on board.
Ansari believes Bilawal Bhutto Zardari might be going to jail to not only offer condolences on Begum Shamim Akhtar’s death but to also discuss future strategies with Shahbaz. “I think Shahbaz may agree with the long march but he would have a different point of view on resignations. In the end, though, Shahbaz would do what Nawaz says. He would not distance himself from the PML-N’s narrative.
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