SWABI: Since the success of the Nov 2 dharna hinges on turnout from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the powerbase of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the provincial chapter of the party is doing whatever it can to ensure maximum participation, come what may. And they are using government resources to make arrangements for its political gathering in Swabi, where they have base camp.
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The entire machinery – including tractors, water tankers, and other equipment – used for preparing a helipad for Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak’s chopper is the property of the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA), officials of the construction and works department of Swabi present at the base camp told The Express Tribune. “Over 300 policemen have been deployed to provide security at the base camp,” added a senior police official.
If sources are to believe, over Rs600,000 has been spent by the construction and works department on preparing the helipad and the stage in Swabi where Khattak was to make a speech. TMA workers, dressed in official uniform, had been engaged since Saturday.
The basecamp has been set up in Swabi along the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway. And party workers from across the province have been asked to reach there for onward march to the capital on Monday – a day before the dharna. PTI’s provincial lawmakers, heading rallies of their supporters, are pouring into the venue from their respective constituencies.
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Many workers travelled long distances to reach Swabi because they had been told that their leader Imran Khan would show up to make a speech there. But that didn’t happen, much to their disappointment. “I was disappointed to learn that Imran Khan will not be able to reach Swabi,” one PTI supporter from Lower Dir told The Express Tribune. “I had come here to see my leader.”
According to insiders, Khan has tasked his party’s K-P chapter to bring in millions of workers for Nov 2. Sources added that Khan was not satisfied with the performance of other provincial leaders of his party who have so far failed to mobilise supporters for the Islamabad lockdown. “Khan is focused on K-P from where he expects to draw huge crowds,” one source said.
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Khan’s supporters stand rock solid behind their leader. Haroon Khan, a PTI supporter from Swabi, said he had attended the 2014 marathon sit-in and would also travel to Islamabad for the Nov 2 dharna because “Khan is crusading against the clique of corrupt rulers”. He added that Khan was the voice of the poor and downtrodden of Pakistan. “We will stand with him through thick and thin.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2016.