Last-minute change in venue: Weather may rain on PTI’s Quetta parade

Published: April 20, 2012

Imran Khan hopes to stage biggest public gathering in the city. PHOTO: QASIM USMAN/FILE

Imran Khan hopes to stage biggest public gathering in the city. PHOTO: QASIM USMAN/FILE President Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Makhdoom Javed Hashmi waves to supporters outside Quetta airport. PHOTO: INP
QUETTA: 

As Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) prepares for the biggest public gathering in Quetta in four years, incessant rain and overcast conditions threaten to play spoilsport.

The last political show was held four years back when Akhtar Mengal was accorded a rousing welcome in Balochistan’s capital city upon release from jail.

The April 20 PTI rally, initially planned at the Ayub Stadium which has a capacity of roughly 100,000 people, has now been shifted to an adjacent ground at Quetta’s hockey stadium due to muddy conditions. The new venue has a capacity between 60,000 and 70,000 people and organisers are mulling over plans to extend it by removing a back wall.

However, weather is not the only hindrance for PTI’s success in Balochistan. With Imran Khan scheduled to arrive in Quetta on Friday morning (today), the party’s central leadership, despite hectic efforts and all ‘tsunami’ rhetoric, has failed in making any big waves in Quetta.

For the past few months, the party’s leadership has been engaged in and around Quetta trying their utmost to attract the Nawabs, Sardars, nationalist and religious leaders in preparation for their upcoming gathering in the city. So far, PTI has only mustered former Capital City Police officer Humayun Jogezai and a few tribal elders from Kuchlak, near Quetta, from Balochistan. PTI leaders in Quetta are also carrying intense efforts to court Mir Lashkari Raisani, younger brother of Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani, who quit the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Tuesday.

Raisani, who also served as the president of PPP’s Balochistan chapter, confirmed the reports. “Yes, the PTI leadership has contacted me to hold a meeting with Imran Khan,” he told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.

“I am still indecisive about my future party. However, I hoped that I would hold a meeting with the PTI chairman soon.” He asserted he has been contacted by the top leaderships of PML-N and JUI-F as well during the last two days.

Considering Imran Khan’s personality, Quetta’s populace believes the gathering will undoubtedly be huge. However, they expect it to be a one-man show with usual fanfare rather than a demonstration of political strength.

PTI Balochistan chapter President Qasim Suri claimed the rally will be historic. “The youth of Quetta and adjoining localities is fully motivated and enthusiastic about joining hands with the PTI leadership,” he said.

Vice president of PTI’s Balochistan chapter Humayun Barkwal meanwhile claimed that numerous tribal notables will join the party in the coming days.

“We have invited dissident Baloch leaders and hope to see them tomorrow,” said Syed Zahoor Agha, PTI Balochistan general secretary.

PTI general secretary Dr Arif Alvi claims there will be a tsunami of people at the Quetta gathering.

Political observers, however, maintain that PTI’s slogan of change falls on deaf ears in Balochistan. They argue that the region is too strongly divided along ethnic lines for it to work. Those living in Baloch-dominated districts vote for Baloch nationalists or tribal leaders, while people in Pashtun-dominated areas trust either Pashtun nationalists or religious parties.

“There is no doubt PTI will hold a huge gathering and manage to attractive few big politicians but the Baloch people are not expecting much from Imran Khan,” said Abid Mir, a columnist and political analyst from Balochistan.

“So far, we have not heard of any big name interested in joining PTI. It is a very hard pitch for PTI to get big wickets,” other observers added.

Abid Bukhari, a sub-editor at a local Urdu newspaper in Quetta, noted: “The Sardars, Nawabs, nationalists and others win because of their personal influence and status, not because of party affiliation.”

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ZAHID GISHKORI AND MOHAMMED RIZWAN

Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2012.

Reader Comments (11)

  • AG
    Apr 20, 2012 - 9:04AM

    Well, ET has had its say. Let’s see what actually happens. Reminds me of reports before 30th Oct….

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  • Zoaib
    Apr 20, 2012 - 10:17AM

    Whatever happens, it is to be commended that PTI is the only national party which is sincerely trying to address the Baluchistan issue and daring to hold a political jalsa there, where no other party has done it before due to security reasons. It’s impact should be seen as more than just for PTI’s political future. It is truly in the interest of Pakistan’s unity for Baluchistan to be engaged in this way.

    It will set a very positive trend insha Allah. :)

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  • Sheeraz
    Apr 20, 2012 - 10:25AM

    Yes hard to find real politics in balochistan.

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  • SS
    Apr 20, 2012 - 10:36AM

    Why does it seem like over the last few months (since sultan lakhani received that presidential award from Asif), all their reports regarding PTI are tinged with sarcasm and negativity, while reporting on PPP is tinged with optimism and support??

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  • Engr. Mohsin Raza
    Apr 20, 2012 - 10:40AM

    So, as usual ET is cursing Imran Khan & PTI, though afraid of a successful Jalsa (as they are unwantedly mentioned). Best of Luck Imran. We are with you.

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  • Apr 20, 2012 - 11:14AM

    Inshallah God will help to Imran Khan, this will be a huge gathering in Quetta.

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  • Iram
    Apr 20, 2012 - 11:26AM

    PTI is only party develop unity among provinces, capacity crowd is expected.

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  • Ali khan
    Apr 20, 2012 - 11:38AM

    PTI’s balochistan president is a punjabi setteler.Need I say anymore?13 out of his 17 member CEC in Balochistan are also Pashtuns.so much for bringing a revolution in BALOCHistan.Recommend

  • Apr 20, 2012 - 11:46AM

    I wonder what ET’s headline would be just a day after the general election results?

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  • fouzia
    Apr 20, 2012 - 2:25PM

    no doubt imran s a much better hope for all of us,bt what we all see in balochistan politics is totaly influnced by sardars,nawab,and tribal figures..pti cant play any role here

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  • MUNIB
    Apr 20, 2012 - 2:29PM

    @Ali . . . is being a punjabi or pashtun a crime or what ? Was Quaid Azam not a minority sect guy who was representing whole nation ?

    PTI is in the phase of evolution, so instead of pulling its leg on ethnic grounds kindly do a +ve criticism. PTI is trying its best to include more and more local baloch leadership. Obviously its better than those PPP walaz sitting in gov licking boots of establishment and on TV talking about baloch rights

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