The Pakistan Peoples Party does not need any help from the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf in saving Lahore from the provincial government’s actions, Lahore PPP information secretary Faisal Mir said on Sunday.
He was speaking at a demonstration held at Jain Mandir to protest the construction of Orange Line Metro Train project.
He said the PPP would stage a sit-in in front of the Punjab Assembly and block the metro bus service if the government did not announce in the next 10 days that the entire track for the metro train would be underground.
Addressing the prime minister, Mir asked how would it be different from the Pakistan International Airlines operation if the government would be required to subsidise the metro train service? “The government wants to privatise the PIA because it has to spend billions of rupees to keep it running. How, then, can it justify the spending of huge sums of money on the metro train service?” he asked.
Mir said that the PPP was the only political party standing in solidarity with families affected by construction activity from the onset. “We have held a number of demonstrations against the project on the directives of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,” he said. “Other parties just engaged in a noora kushti (fixed fight) over the issue,” he said.
Addressing PTI chief Imran Khan, Mir said if he could hold a sit-in in his selfish interest (‘to become a prime minister’), why couldn’t he hold another for the sake of Lahoris?
Earlier, a scuffle took place on the the sudden appearance at the demonstration of Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed and some other leaders of the opposition alliance.
Several PPP workers chanted slogans against Rasheed. Addressing him from the stage, Mir asked him to leave the protest. “Why have you shown up at the PPP’s protest? The damage has already been done with your complicity,” he said. Mir said the PTI had been silent over the issue till last week.
Speaking at the demonstration, Lahore PPP president Samina Khalid Ghurki condemned the government for demolishing houses and commercial buildings in violation of law and damaging historical sites.
Nusrat Bano, who introduced herself as the Victim of Orange Line Committee convener, said the entire city had now turned against the PML-N government because of its ‘anti-Lahore’ policies. She said that she had always voted for the PML-N but felt that if the party went ahead with the Orange Line project it would lose the city to the PPP.
The protesters later took out a procession along the metro train route near Kapoorthala House, Old Anarkali. The participants carried placards and chanted slogans like: Orange Line Jati Umra kay mehal par banao (Construct the Orange Line train at Jati Umra); Hamaray gharon par dollar train mat chalao (don’t demolish our houses to make way for train funded in dollars); Orange Line Mariam Nawaz kay ghar par banao (construct the Orange Line on the house of Mariam Nawaz); save heritage, build dollar line underground; Orange Train or dollar train?; and Orange Train or white elephant?
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2016.