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November 27, 2020

Request for Multan jalsa rejected: PPP, JUI-F say PDM public meeting on 30th at any cost

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November 27, 2020

MULTAN: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leadership Thursday condemned a ban on the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) public meeting at Qila Qasim Bagh on Nov 30.

PPP central leader and former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said the incumbent government claims to be democratic, but it is taking dictatorial measures. He said large-scale arrests of the PPP workers had been made by the government authorities during the past two days. However, he warned, the Multan PDM meeting would be held as per schedule on Nov 30 at any cost.

Addressing a workers’ convention here, he said during his tenure as the prime minister of Pakistan, no restrictions were ever imposed on freedom of speech in the country. He said the Multan administration had warned the tent owners of dire consequences if they provided chairs for the PDM meeting.

The government had made Multan a ‘No-go area’, alleged Gilani. He said all main roads had been blocked, and his sons were being arrested. Why the government had become so nervous by the PDM Multan meeting, he asked.

Separately, JUI-F chief patron Qari Muhammad Tahseen chaired a meeting and said the PDM public meeting would be held at any cost.

He called upon clerics and party workers to join hands with the PDM in connection with holding of the public meeting.

Later, addressing a joint press conference of the PDM leaders, Qari Tahseen said the government had launched an aggressive crackdown on the PDM workers, but the event would be held according to its schedule.

Earlier, the Multan city administration Thursday refused to grant permission for a public gathering, planned by the PDM, citing the rising spread of coronavirus.

An application seeking permission to hold the meeting on Nov 30 in Multan was filed by PPP leader Natasha Daultana. The party is planning to host the PDM jalsa at Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh Stadium. The gathering will also mark the party's 53rd foundation day.

Denying permission for the jalsa, Deputy Commissioner Amir Khattak cited Punjab government’s directives banning public gatherings of more than 300 guests until Jan 31 next year. The deputy commissioner order said the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department (P&SHD), through his letter No SO(G)P&SHD/4-I/2020 dated November 19, 2020, imposed complete ban on all types of large-scale gatherings and only outdoor gathering was allowed with an upper limit of 300 persons. The order has come into force with immediate effect and would remain in force till Jan 2021 unless otherwise amended.

He added that at least eight smart lockdowns have been imposed in the city to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.

The government and opposition have locked horns over public gatherings as a second wave of coronavirus infections spikes across the country.