Hundreds of junior government employees at Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Go Zardari Go rally on Friday said they had come to the rally in compliance of orders from ‘above’. Some of them said that as public servants they should not have been forced to attend political events.
This correspondent recognised several officials of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Health Department, Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA), Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and the City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) on the occasion.
Ahmed Ali, a PHA worker, said he had arrived at Nasser Bagh at around noon. “I was told that attendance at the rally was required and that action would be taken against those who were absent,” he said. A CM’s Secretariat official speaking on condition of anonymity said he and his colleagues were told to leave work by noon to be at the rally.
Khan Muhammad, an LDA worker, said he resented instructions to officials to attend rallies and protests organised by political parties. “Rules require us to be shun politics yet we are forced to attend political events,” he said. He also said he and several of his colleagues had had to miss Friday prayers to ensure timely presence at Nasser Bagh.
Basharat Ali, a CDGL worker, said he had been arranging chairs at a camp set up for rally participants at Jinnah Hall since morning. He said some of his colleagues were performing duties at drinking water stalls along the route of the rally.
Maqboolan Bibi, a health worker from Darogawala, who was also at the rally complained that the organisers had failed to provide lunch.
Azhar, who was in plain clothes but claimed to be a policeman, said he had come to attend the rally on his own. “It has been a while since there was such a rally in the city. I did not want to miss it,” he said.
Till 4pm in the evening, attendance remained thin at all but PML-N lawyers’ wing’s camp. People from Khanewal, Vehari, Kasur, Jhelum, Hafizabad, Pakpattan, Sheikhupura and Gujranwal had arrived in the city to attend the rally. MNA Hamza Shahbaz Shairf was the first central leader of his party to have arrived at the venue.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.
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