Countdown to Raiwind: PTI to press ahead with march, drops siege plan

Imran ready to change date to accomodate allies

Muhammad Ibrar/qamar Zaman September 10, 2016

ISLAMABAD/ PABBI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s march to Raiwind has all but fizzled out with the party deciding to go ahead with its rally planned for September 24 but not near the plush housing complex of the ruling Sharif family.

“We have decided to go for the Raiwind march but we will not go to their [Sharif family’s] residence,” PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced on Friday after a consultative session with the senior leaders of his party at Bani Gala, Islamabad.

The meeting was convened following reservations expressed by some opposition parties about the venue and date for the rally. The Jamaat-e-Islami — a coalition partner of the PTI in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government — has already pulled out of the planned protest.

The PTI, however, decided it would not backtrack from the Raiwind protest though the dates could still be changed to accommodate likeminded parties.

The party would contact other opposition parties for finalising the dates of the rally before the start of Islamic month of Muharram, which begins in about three weeks.

“We are talking to other parties,” Imran said while addressing the media after the meeting. “It will be a historic march and we invite people from across the country.”

“We will go alone if others do not join”, because the incumbent rulers have ruined all democratic institutions of the country, he added.

The PTI chief, however, clarified the demonstration should not be construed as an attack on the ruling Sharif family’s houses.

He said the PTI in its 20 year of politics had never attacked anyone’s house but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken people to the late president Farooq Leghari’s village. “The PML-N is a fascist party nurtured by military dictators,” he alleged.

To a question about the PPP’s participation in the planned march, he said the opposition was united over the Panama leaks. “We will try to keep them along with us and will go to the last extent for that,” he added.

Talking to reporters, PTI Vice-President Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the PTI could invite opposition parties but could not force them to join the Raiwind march. “We are ready to show flexibility with the date of the march but it must be before Muharram,” he added.

JI not interested

The PTI march to Raiwind has not received much appreciation from the opposition, which otherwise has supported Imran’s demand for an independent inquiry into the Panama leaks.

The JI became the first party to pull out of the rally even before consultations began.

Speaking to the media in Pabbi, K-P, JI chief Senator Sirajul Haq said his party has already started a movement against corruption in the country and would not participate in PTI’s rally.

Surrounding the Sharif’s houses in Raiwind is the decision of the PTI leadership, he said, adding his party had no concern with this call. “The JI has decided to show its power in Faisalabad against Panama leaks, lawlessness and corruption in the country,” Siraj said.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2016.


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