Imran Khan’s rally today at the historic Liaquat Bagh, situated at the confluence of the army headquarters and parliament, appears to be a make-or-break event for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).
It will also be the first significant political show by the PTI since the retirement of former intelligence chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who has been blamed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for supporting Khan.
Leaders claim that “the PTI tsunami will restore moral disapprobation to corruption, and the campaign will offer the emerging political party an opportunity to show its power to the PML-N.”
Khan is likely to announce his party’s strategy for the next parliamentary elections. Arrangements to attract hundreds of thousands of people to Liaquat Bagh have been finalised, complete with the formation of 10 committees working on a strategy to make the event a success.
“It will be the first time that the PTI will meet people of the garrison city … a big show will prove which party is really highlighting the issues of masses,” said PTI leader Ishaq Khan Khakwani.
Party members say that the main objective of the rally is to force the government to implement the Supreme Court’s orders, inform the public about how the government gave in to US pressure to reopen Nato supply routes as well as to set up grounds for kicking off a political fight against the PML-N.
“This rally will be as a litmus test for the local PML-N leadership as well,” said chief organiser Amir Mehmood Kiani. The PML-N, however, does not seem so impressed. According to Shakeel Awan, a PML-N MNA from Rawalpindi, the “head of the Metrological Department (General Pasha)” has retired, so the so-called tsunami has not been working out.
He added that the rally will only prove how the PTI has failed to stand on its own feet, and will be the first political rally in which locals will not participate. “We will fully facilitate the PTI to organise the rally, but cannot guarantee that people will turn up,” he claimed. The PML-N leadership has long claimed that Rawalpindi is their stronghold since most of their lawmakers in parliament are from the city.
Meanwhile, party officials said special security arrangements will be made and PTI workers will be deputed in residential areas, including Arya Mohalla. Organisers also claim to have designed over 150,000 banners inscribed with slogans against the leadership. “We hope over 100,000 people will attend the rally,” said Kiani.
PTI organisers dealing with financial matters told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that an estimated Rs9 million to Rs10 million will be spent on the upcoming rally. All PTI leaders are contributing, they said.
He added that the district government will make all security arrangements.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2012.