ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Thursday announced nationwide protests against the rising inflation tomorrow.
The opposition Alliance’s spokesman, Hafiz Hamdullah, said committees will be formed at the provincial level to hold the protests. Committees will be formed in Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Islamabad to determine the locations of the protests in consultation with the districts, he said.
Hamdullah further said that the duration of the demonstrations is two weeks which can be extended over time. "The PDM leadership and members of the parliament will participate in the protests as much as possible," the spokesperson added.
He also said that the next meeting of the PDM steering committee will be held soon to review the political situation in the country. Confirming the news, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said protests will be held in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Swat, Shangla and other cities tomorrow after Friday prayers.
"PDM is protesting tomorrow against rising inflation and unemployment," Aurangzeb said. The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) has planned several protest demonstrations and public rallies in various cities of the province against inflation and sky-rocketing prices of essential items, for which the party has mobilised its chain of command and workers.In this regard, a PMLN meeting with party’s Punjab President Rana Sanaullah was held and a schedule of protest demonstrations was finalised.
Party sources said that all MNAs, MPAs, ticket-holders, office-bearers and workers of the PMLN had been instructed to ensure their participation in the protest demonstrations, along with people of their respective areas. They said every MNA, MPA, ticket-holder and office-bearer was instructed to bring at least 200 people with them, especially women and young people. They were also directed to bring water bottles and edibles with them.
Recently PMLN held the party reorganisational meetings in Punjab and lists of active workers were also prepared so that they could be brought on roads to protest against the government whenever needed.
As per the schedule of protest demonstrations, the PMLN would hold a protest demonstration at Jain Mandir chowk after Friday prayers in the provincial metropolis. Party sources said that all party leaders and workers were directed to reach Jain Mandir chowk before the Friday prayers.
The Multan Road and Thokar Chowk are already blocked by Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan workers for the last two days and they are demanding immediate release of their leader and implementation of an agreement they had signed with the government earlier.
Sources said the PMLN chose Jain Mandir chowk for its public protest because Lahore High Court had already imposed a ban on public protests on The Mall and instructed the media to not cover any such protest.
Sources said Hamza Shahbaz and other leaders from Lahore would be present at the protest while Maryam Nawaz would not take part in the party’s planned protest demonstrations. Maryam Nawaz would lead the next round when the party would start rallies, sources said.
Sources said the party leaders have been asked to engage traders and youth, who were already protesting against the government over inflation, joblessness and sky-rocketing prices.
As per the schedule of other cities, a rally would be held outside Jamia Masjid Shaharwali (Main City) in Muzaffargarh, a protest demonstration would be held at NG Pump Ayub Chowk, Jhang.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi would lead a protest rally on Murree Road while a protest would be held at Dera Mian Wasim Akhtar Sheikh (Shehbaz Khan Road) in Kasur. A protest demonstration will be held in front of Railway Station Chowk in Mianwali and a protest demonstration will be held outside PMLN House, Khushab.
Similarly, a protest demonstration will be held outside Farid Gate in Bahawalpur while a protest rally would be taken out at District Secretariat Jhang Chowk in Bhakkar. A protest demonstration would be held at Fawara Chowk near District Secretariat in Hafizabad near Press Club. It was also decided that Irfan Daultana will took out a protest rally in Vehari from Ghalla Mandi to Baldia whereas a protest rally will be taken out in Vehari City under the command of Saqib Khurshid.
Protest rallies will also be taken out after Friday prayers at Joharabad and at Khatam-e-Nabuat Chowk Layyah.
Meanwhile, after the government ignored a sit-in which the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) workers have been staging for the last two days, the party leadership has announced organizing a long march towards Islamabad after Friday prayers today.“After continuous refusals by the PTI government to fulfill its agreement to expel the French ambassador, and repeated denials to release TLP President Hafiz Saad Rizvi in violation of court orders, we are compelled to conduct a long march on the federal capital to press our demands,” said TLP central leader Pir Sarwar Shah Saifi while briefing the media on Thursday.
He extended a final deadline to the government for announcing implementation of its agreements till 3pm on Friday (today), failing which the long march would be started. He said if the government contacts them before 3pm, the long march would be called off and “we would go home after saying prayers”. He said calls have been made to workers and sympathizers all over the country to reach Lahore for joining the long march. The long march would be led by Sarwar Hussain Shah Saifi, Ghulam Abbas Faizi, Mufti Umairul Azhari, Allama Anas Qadri and Mufti Qasim Fakhri MPA.
The TLP leadership refused to announce which route would be adopted for the long march towards Islamabad. Sources said that they have also made a plan B, in case they are blocked from conducting the long march.
On Thursday night, TLP workers completely blocked the busy Multan Road by staging the sit-in which they had been previously organizing on the footpaths on both sides of the road as a peaceful protest for the last 10 days. This situation created a traffic mess in the city and forced the administration to suspend the Orange Line metro train service. Multan road serves as the main entry point for the traffic coming from all cities situated in the southern region and the blockade caused serious problems for thousands of passengers entering Lahore.
The police tried to remove the sit-in but upon refusal by the TLP leadership registered cases against over one hundred workers and leaders under the Anti-Terrorism Act, rioting, possession of illegal weapons, etc. The police later confined the protesters staging the sit-in within their occupied space by erecting iron containers on both sides of the road and then welding the containers together so that the protesters could not remove them for coming out for the long march.
It was learnt that TLP leaders Pir Qazi Mahmood Awan, Patron-in-chief Pir Muhammad Qasim, Ameer of south Punjab Pir Sarwar Shah Saifi, Ameer Hazara Division Mufti Umair Al-Zahiri, head of north Punjab Maulana Ghulam Abbas Saifi, Ameer of Balochistan Mufti Wazir Qadri, Mufti Abid Raza Qadri and others were booked. The complainants of the FIR included the station manager of the Orange Line train service, who said that unidentified armed men stormed the station, sprayed petrol on the staff, threatened to kill them and looted valuables.
Police officials told the media that the protesters had kidnapped two policemen standing on duty, smashed window glasses of vehicles and thrashed passengers. The TLP leadership alleged that the police arrested more than one hundred activists. Traffic was jammed on many roads adjoining the Multan Road as a result of the sit-in, while the police claimed that traffic was plying normally on all city roads except the Multan Road. There are reports of brief incidents of violence between TLP activists and police on the Multan Road.
The government of Punjab has already placed more than 500 TLP stalwarts including members of its Central Shoora under the Fourth Schedule. Home Department officials said more activists could be put under Fourth Schedule.
Meanwhile, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Prime Minister Imran Khan made Pakistan the fourth most expensive country in the world in just three years and now it’s time that he must be thrown out of power to get rid of inflation.
“Today, the country is at the brink of economic catastrophe due to Imran Khan’s wrong economic policies,” he said Thursday while directing the PPP workers to continue protesting against price hike in the country. Bilawal said every Pakistani today knows that Imran Khan is an incompetent ruler.
Meanwhile, PPP chairman congratulated party’s senior leader Syed Khursheed Shah on his bail and said the government and its NAB held Khursheed in ‘political custody’ for two years. “Under the cover of fake corruption cases, Khursheed Shah was actually kept in custody for his loyalty to democracy,” he added.
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