PPP, PTI gear up for May 12 rallies

Both parties changed their rally venues after a violent clash between their workers


Our Correspondent May 12, 2018
PTI’s Ali Zaidi, Arif Alvi, Firdous Naqvi; PPP's Waqar Mehdi, Najmi Alam among those booked. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

KARACHI: The city braces for a major power show by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) today (Saturday), five days after activists of both parties tested their muscles in violent clashes at the Hakim Said Ground in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on Monday night.

The parties clashed over the venue of their May 12 rallies, both wanting to claim Hakim Said Ground as their own. After the violence, leaders of both parties decided to hold their events at different venues. The leadership of both parties - Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Imran Khan - will address the gatherings.  In this regard, leaders of both parties are trying to draw more people in order to make their events a success.

The police apprehended at least 10 workers belonging to both parties on Wednesday in connection with the clash. An FIR was registered on behalf of the state against several leaders of the parties, including PTI leaders Ali Haider Zaidi, Firdous Shamim Naqvi and Arif Alvi and PPP leaders Waqar Mehdi and Najmi Alam, as well as 600 to 700 workers of both parties.

Hakim Said Ground remained a battlefield for over an hour on Monday night after workers of PTI and PPP clashed with each other over their May 12 rally venue. Several people sustained injuries when clashes erupted between workers of both parties at the ground.

FIR registered against PTI, PPP leaders after Karachi clash

Workers of both parties developed differences over Hakim Said Ground – the initial venue for May 12 public meetings announced by both the PPP and PTI. The ground turned into a battlefield as workers pelted stones at each other and resorted to attacking each other with sticks and iron rods.

The camps of both parties were also set ablaze at the venue. Two four-wheelers and one two-wheeler were also set ablaze. The situation came under control after an extra contingent of police and Rangers reached the site and dispersed the political workers.

PPP meeting

All the arrangements has been finalised by the PPP to hold their meeting at Bagh-e-Jinnah near the Quaid’s Mausoleum where the party has arranged 40,000 seats. The ground has been divided into different enclaves for women, men and the media.  One gate has been reserved exclusively for women.

Before the jalsa, the ruling PPP decorated various areas of Karachi with flags, banners and posters with photos of Bilawal.

According to party leaders, 1,000 youth volunteers of the party, who are also called Bilawal’s janisars (protectors), will facilitate people and manage traffic at the site. Meanwhile, the government has arranged around 2,000 policemen to be deployed for the security of the rally.

PTI vs PPP: Karachi rally ground turns into battlefield

“It will be our last rally before Ramazan. We will not organise any big events, but our iftar parties will continue in the holy month,” PPP’s secretary-general of its Sindh chapter, Waqar Mehdi told The Express Tribune. He added that after Ramazan, the party will reorganise rallies in different areas of the country.

“Today, Bilawal Bhutto will give an important speech,” he said, adding that other senior leaders of the party will also address the gathering, which will start at around 4pm.

“There is a capacity of 100,000 people at this ground. I hope people from every nook and cranny of Karachi turn up to attend this event,” Mehdi said, adding that around 14 workers and activists of the party were martyred on May 12, 2007  and this event is meant to pay tribute to them.

The party has made a 120 feet long, 40 feet wide and 20 feet high stage from where leaders will address the gathering.

PTI meeting

The PTI, on the other hand, has selected the Sunday Bazaar Ground near Aladin Park in Gulshan-e-Iqbal as its venue for its May 12 rally. PTI Chairperson Imran Khan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa Parvez Khattak, Fawad Chaudhry and Shah Mehmood Qureshi will address the gathering and pay tribute to the May 12 martyrs.

Petition to ban political rallies on May 12 filed in SHC

The PTI has constructed a 60 feet long, 40 feet wide and 60 feet high stage and the event will start at 7pm. “We will have our own volunteers, but have requested the government to provide security too,” said the party spokesperson.

As many as 1,100 police officers and personnel will perform security duties at the PTI venue, according to Sharae Faisal ASP Hamza. "Three to four parking places will be allotted with police deployment," the officer explained. "A bomb disposal squad will also scan the entire ground and the teams will be available during the day." Snipers will also be deputed on the rooftops while walkthrough gates will also be installed at entrance where police will assist PTI volunteers in checking participants.

This will be the PPP’s second pre-election rally in the city and the PTI’s first.

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