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Tuesday July 16, 2024

PTI postpones Islamabad rally after NOC suspended

Administration committed contempt of court by doing so, as neither the commissioner nor DC could cancel NOC, therefore, the party had approached the IHC against the NOC’s suspension

By Asim Yasin & Mumtaz Alvi
July 07, 2024
PTI  Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, NA Opposition Leader Omar Ayub and other party leaders address a press conference in Islamabad on July 6, 2024. — Screengrab via X/@InsafPKTV
PTI  Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, NA Opposition Leader Omar Ayub and other party leaders address a press conference in Islamabad on July 6, 2024. — Screengrab via X/@InsafPKTV

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) postponed its Saturday’s public meeting, scheduled to be held in the federal capital area of Tarnol at 6pm, saying the Islamabad administration had ‘unconstitutionally’ revoked the No-Objection Certificate (NOC) at the eleventh hour.

PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan announced this during a news conference. He was flanked by Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Omar Ayub Khan, other senior leaders including Asad Qaiser, Ali Muhammad Khan, PTI Information Secretary Raoof Hasan and others.

Gohar said that PTI’s Political Committee had decided to postpone the public meeting, which was intended to be held for restoration of the constitutional supremacy and rule of law. He pointed out they had received a green signal for the ‘power show’ after having requested for the NOC for the last four months, but the Islamabad commissioner cancelled the NOC.

He claimed the administration committed contempt of court by doing so, as neither the commissioner nor DC could cancel NOC, therefore, the party had approached the IHC against the NOC’s suspension.

The PTI chairman hoped that the court would hear their plea on Monday since the chief justice was not available due to the weekend. Gohar announced that they would now hold the public gathering after Ashura with legal permission because they always adhered to the law and Constitution. “We are hopeful to secure the necessary legal permission and go ahead with the rally, as politics without PTI founder is incomplete. The party’s workers are quite passionate and hopeful for the historic power show,” he claimed.

About the government’s All Parties Conference (APC), the PTI chairman said that they have not received any invitation for the APC and will deliberate on its agenda after receiving the invitation. He claimed that several PTI workers had been picked up in recent days and announced to take the matter before the court. “This government will only last a few more days. Our struggle for democracy will continue come what may,” Gohar vowed.

Speaking on the occasion, Omar Ayub grilled the federal capital administration for revoking the NOC and asked whether the Islamabad DC and chief commissioner were senseless when they had signed the orders to allow the rally. Omar said the party would hold a historic public gathering after Ashura. Besides they would also hold rallies in Lahore, Karachi and Faisalabad. However, a mass protest movement would be announced by PTI founder chairman Imran Khan.

The opposition leader in the National Assembly made it clear that whenever Imran Khan announced a hunger strike, they would all support him, adding that despite the court orders, rally equipment was removed late at night.

“The Tarnol site was provided by the administration. Our preparations were underway until late last night, but then the police sealed the site and deputy commissioner revoked the NOC out of fear of PTI workers,” he added. “There is no such thing as governance in the country,” Omar said.

On the occasion, former NA Speaker Asad Qaiser said that the PTI founding chairman had explicitly instructed them to hold a jalsa only after obtaining legal permission because they believed in supremacy of law and Constitution. Qaiser emphasized that they would continue their struggle for the supremacy of Constitution and rule of law within the legal framework.

Ali Muhammad criticised the revoking of NOC and added it showed that the successful public gathering in Mansehra scared the power-wielders. He said that Imran hinted at going on hunger strike and warned it would erupt massive protests across the country.

Meanwhile, the PTI filed a contempt of court plea in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the Islamabad administration for suspending the NOC of Tarnol public meeting. PTI leaders Omar Ayub, Barrister Gohar, Umair Niazi, Shehryar Afridi, Sanaullah Mastikhel and Shahid Khattak filed the plea. In its petition, the party said the Islamabad DC apprised the court on July 4 that the NOC had been issued. Nevertheless, the plea added, the PTI leaders got to know about the NOC’s suspension through the Islamabad Police’s post via its official handle on social media platform X.

Meanwhile, Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazir Tarar said that it was the administration’s decision to allow the PTI to hold a rally or not. “According to the reports of administration and institutions, Tarnol is the most sensitive place and the administration was on high alert for the month of Muharram,” he told a private media house.

The law minister said that after the Afghan war, Pakistan had become a frontline state against terrorism and the government and institutions were making all-out efforts to end terrorism.

Earlier, Islamabad Chief Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa suspended the NOC, citing the beginning of the month of Muharram and security concerns along with complaints lodged by the local people. The chief commissioner, in a letter dated July 5, said that the police on Wednesday confirmed recovering a heavy cache of weapons and ammunition.

Stressing that an intelligence-based operation (IBO) was still underway in Tarnol, the official highlighted insufficient manpower to secure a local Imambargah and the rally at the same time, particularly in Muharram. The intelligence agencies, he added, had shared information about the presence of security threats in the area during the holy month.

Apart from the security threat, he said residents of Tarnol also conveyed their concerns over the permission for the public gathering in the area. Hence, Randhawa said he deemed it “expedient in the public interest to suspend the NOC till Chehlum”.