PAT, PTI turn up the heat on Sharifs



SWABI / ISLAMABAD / FAISALABAD / PESHAWAR / LAHORE: In a repeat of August 2013, the Tahirul Qadri-led Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have once again started campaigns against the Sharif government although for different reasons.

PAT workers staged sit-ins in Islamabad and different cities of Punjab on Saturday, demanding justice for the victims of the Model Town tragedy. In June 2014, 14 Qadri supporters were killed in Lahore by Punjab police to quell demonstrations by the politico-religious party.

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PTI leaders are likely to join the PAT protests also as the party’s countrywide anti-graft campaign kicks off today (Sunday). PTI Chairman Imran is slated to arrive in Attock from Peshawar on his Ehtisab (accountability) container, which was being given final touches Saturday night.

PAT has named the latest series of protests and rallies “Tehreek-e-Qisas-o-Ehtisab” (Movement for Revenge and Accountability).

At the sit-ins

In Lahore, hundreds of PAT activists took out a rally from Model Town to The Mall where party chief Dr Tahirul Qadri addressed the rally via telephone.

He simultaneously addressed rallies in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Islamabad and Karachi. In Lahore, Mahmoodur Rasheed from the PTI and Kamil Ali Agha from PML-Q led delegations of their parties at the rallies.

The populist cleric said his Qisas Movement was aimed at taking the corrupt rulers to task and to topple the regime of Aal-e-Sharif (the house of  Sharifs). He said it was important to get justice for the martyrs of Model Town; otherwise, the rulers would kill anybody who dares to differ with them.

“After the announcement of Qisas Movement, Nawaz Sharif is bribing MPAs, MNAs in the name of development funds,” he said. “The second-tier leadership of PML-N is being promised rewards for defending the Sharif family on TV talk shows.”

Qadri alleged the bureaucracy seemed to have been privatised, as the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, police and other state institutions were functioning like servants of the Sharif family.

He added that checks and balances had been abolished from Pakistan and the rulers came into power for business. “They have no concern with national security neither are they faithful to the country,” he claimed.

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The cleric said amendments to the Constitution were brought just to tighten the rulers’ grip on power. He said the nation would have to decide whether they wanted the state of Pakistan or a state of the Sharifs.

He warned that no power would now be able to rescue the Sharifs from justice as all opposition parties and people had united against them. “Our movement will continue and justice will be served,” he proclaimed.

In Islamabad, about 2,000 people turned up at the sit-in called by PAT, where party leaders blamed Nawaz and his brother Shahbaz Sharif for the Model Town massacre.

Banners displayed at the protest site featured pictures of the Sharif brothers with the hangman’s noose around their necks. The banners also called upon army chief Gen Raheel Sharif to provide justice to the victims.

Addressing the participants, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad called for making public the findings of the judicial inquiry of the Model Town killings. “We are not looking towards the army. We just demand that the report be published,” he said.

PML-Q leader and former Punjab law minister Raja Basharat also addressed the rally and assured his party’s full support to PAT to get justice for its workers killed in Lahore.

Meanwhile, PTI supporters are all set to launch their party’s accountability march from Peshawar that will travel to Attock in the first phase. Like its D-Chowk sit-in two years ago, the party chief will run his campaign out of a shipping container.

Imran and other senior leaders, including Naeemul Haq, Jehangir Tareen and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, are expected to address the rally at 10:30am in Peshawar.

PTI Media Cell head Iftikhar Durrani told The Express Tribune that Imran would address supporters at five stopovers on the Grand Trunk Road and make his final speech in Khairabad, Attock, at 7pm.

He clarified that not a single penny had been taken from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government and even the provincial chief minister and other ministers would attend the rally in their private vehicles without protocol.

In response to PTI’s protest call, the PML-N’s K-P chapter has also announced a show of political strength in the provincial capital. The party’s district president said just like Imran’s Dharna of 2013, this protest would also meet the same fate.

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