Hundreds of activists from different political parties and members of civil society took to the streets to protest the release of Raymond Davis, the alleged official of United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who had shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore earlier this year.
Threatening the present government with a civil disobedience movement, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Chief Imran Khan asked the government to voluntarily quit, he was speaking at Aabpara Chowk to a rally of hundreds of people.
“They must go or people in great numbers will take to street to topple their government,” said Khan. He added that by freeing Davis, the political leaders had shown weakness. It had given a wrong message to the world.
“We showed the Americans that they could get anything with money. They were assured that US citizens could get away with even murder in Pakistan,” said the PTI chief.
Khan was also critical of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in Punjab. “Sharif brothers have always demonstrated cowardice. They always leave the country in times of crisis,” said Imran.
The participants of the rally held at Aabpara Chowk after the Friday prayers, mostly youth, were carrying banners with slogans against United States written on them. The youth criticised the federal as well as the Punjab goverments. The main Aabpara road, Khayaban-e-Suharwardy, was closed where traffic remained suspended till late in the evening.
Local leader of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Mian Muhammad Aslam also criticised the intelligence agencies and the federal government for aiding the release of Davis.
“The Pakistan Peoples Party led federal governmental and intelligence agencies helped engineer Davis’s release through court,” said Aslam. He said Davis should have been hanged for killing Pakistani citizens in broad daylight. The protesters dispersed peacefully but not before giving threats of returning with greater numbers if the government does not leave.
Dozens of members of civil society also held a separate rally at D-Chowk in front of the Parliament House to protest the release of the alleged US spy. They were stopped by the police from proceeding towards the presidency and the Supreme Court.
They chanted slogans against the government, condemning it for allowing the killer of two Pakistanis to get off scot free. These protesters dispersed after staying on the Parade Avenue for over two hours.
Earlier before the Friday prayers, the PTI activists claimed their offices were raided in Rawalpindi by the police who confiscated flags and banners of their party. They said the administration wanted to stop PTI from taking out rallies in the twin cities. They claimed some of their activists were arrested but the police denied arresting any of the protesters.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2011.