Intelligence agencies at PTI rally fight over turnout

Published: October 31, 2011
Operations Department official says he has to keep count low, as low count will keep the Punjab govt happy. PHOTO: RABIA MEHMOOD

Operations Department official says he has to keep count low, as low count will keep the Punjab govt happy. PHOTO: RABIA MEHMOOD


For any political gathering to be successful it is not the speech that counts, but rather the strength, which sends out a message to policymakers.

Intelligence and law-enforcement agencies have a whole network of people at every such gathering to ascertain the numbers. What follows is the account of such officials whose names have been withheld at their request.

“I just got a call from the chief, and he asked me to give him my estimates for the number attending the PTI rally,” says an official of the Special Branch. “When I told him it is around 75,000 he told me to go and find a neutral observer,” he adds and laughs, talking to his counterpart in the Punjab Police’s Operations Department.

In response, the Operations Department official says he has to keep the count low, since his department head knows that a low count will keep the Punjab government happy. “But I got a call from the CM Secretariat, and they are now quoting figures of 60,000 themselves,” adds the police official.

The Special Branch had set up a survey van at the back of the stage where Imran Khan spoke. With an elaborate technological system recording every angle of the rally with CCTVs installed all around the location, and even on top of Minar-e-Pakistan, the screens showed a flood of people.

Biggest public gathering?

A senior photographer of an English daily, while sharing his experience with a young journalist, claimed that the PTI rally was the largest public gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan since former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s arrival in Pakistan in 1986. People belonging to all walks of life – young and old, rich and poor – were seen at the venue, which was at full capacity.

Drone strike’s victims attend

A sizeable number of people came from Khyber-Pakhtukhawa and tribal areas, some of them being direct victims of US drone strikes.

“We have come voluntarily to participate in this meeting because we think Imran Khan has right policies,” PTI president in the Mohmad Agency Sajid Khan told The Express Tribune.

PTI’s tehsil Safi organizer Jam Dad Khan said: “I have lost my two uncles to drone attacks .We are supporting Khan due to his anti-American as well as anti-drone stance.” He added that Imran Khan is gaining popularity in K-P and Fata.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st,  2011.

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Reader Comments (65)

  • Zaidi
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:22AM

    Actions speak louder than words. If PTI rally was the largest public gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan since former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s arrival in Pakistan in 1986, the power of this rally speaks for itself.


  • Oct 31, 2011 - 10:42AM

    there is no comparison of 1986 rally of Benazier Bhutto. it was a huge show and those who attended it remembered that there was not any empty ground in Manto park at that time. not only front grounds were filled but also all back grounds were filled. on top of it, unlike imran show roads around minar e pakistan were jamed yet in this show there were many grounds empty. yet our independent media wants to show it otherwise. reality remains that after spending so much money, Imran failed to gather any electable in his show. it may be an invitation to electables to join PTI. imran is more critical to USA but did not said anything about Britain which is an interesting thing.Recommend

  • Javed Shah
    Oct 31, 2011 - 11:13AM

    Peoples Tsunami is here. There is not stopping to it now


  • Javed
    Oct 31, 2011 - 11:21AM

    @Zaidi: it will not be the same case with PTI as it was with BB… Election turnout was too less at that time for BB…Recommend

  • Ali
    Oct 31, 2011 - 11:22AM

    whatever the numbers, it was a successful show.


  • ali
    Oct 31, 2011 - 11:33AM

    Imran Khan:
    Extremely Patriotic,
    Strong Islamic values,
    No ethnic bias,
    honest and non-corrupt,


  • Abdul
    Oct 31, 2011 - 11:56AM

    Brother Amir i think u shod get ur facts right. There were independent media personell from international channels who also claimed that it was a biggest gathering since 1986 that Lahore has ever seen. They say that the head count was around 200,000. All the roads were jam packed around the park.
    The picture shown above must be taken around 12 o clock. Coz when i went there at 5, i codnt find an empty space in the park. All the roads were jam packed. I had to park my car 5 Km away and walk from there. And the good thing was the zeal shown by the crowd. There were young, old and children from both genders. There were poor, middle and elite class ppl. All those who never bothered to come to a political rally were out there. The show was a massive success and the ppl greeted the PTI leader with warmth.
    I wasnt a PTI supporter since yesterday, but after seeing what they had put on yesterday, I am all theres.


  • MAD
    Oct 31, 2011 - 11:56AM

    @aamir riaz:

    I dont think anything needs to eb said about Britain. They effectively report to the Americans.


  • Niazi
    Oct 31, 2011 - 12:04PM

    Its all about the change…….that we need!!!!!!
    its not the matter how many ppl were there its all about how many ppl are going to vote Imran Khan n i m dam sour that their numbers r in millionsssssssssssss


  • Oct 31, 2011 - 12:11PM

    Its amazing, definitely a dent to mainstream political parties.


  • Noor
    Oct 31, 2011 - 12:17PM

    Anyway! it was a huge show to the people who like status quo!

    Time for change now.

    Even our people in power should stop their ego war & realize that if we don’t reform our actions & policies, it is everybody’s next generation which will suffer.

    I suppose everybody loves their kids & grandkids!


  • Noon Meem
    Oct 31, 2011 - 12:28PM

    @ Ali –

    How come Anti-American is a qualifying point for being “son of the soil”?


  • Khalid Javed
    Oct 31, 2011 - 12:33PM

    I was a part of 1986 Benazir rally as a young college student in Lahore & yesterday have watched the live telecast while sitting in my home in UAE. Strangely enough, many commonalities in these two rallies thread me together with those times. I am reminded of 1986 feelings of overwhelming dissatisfaction with the long drawn repressive dictatorial rule, a biting helplessness & curious wish for some change, the redeemer-like figure of young Ms Bhutto. Our hearts filled with exuberance hoped for a change & the change did came in 1988 when Benazir came into power. In my mid 40’s, often my post-working hours evenings are marred by depression caused by overall worsening conditions in Pakistan & our image as Pakistanis.

    Yesterdays, watching the euphoric feelings, exuberant faces of the young participants, after long time, I looked at my 8 years twin boys with a message of hope in my eyes for them,” Change will Come my sons, you will be safe in your own country, the wind of change has started. After long, I had a sleep with unconscious part of my mind re-assured that my little children will be having a SAFE PAKISTAN in Safe hands………..Like millions of Pakistanis, my heart is also filled once again with hope for a Change….. We hoped in 1986 for a change & change did came. Now again,we hope for a change & change will come. God bless you PTI & Mr. Khan.


  • Ashraf P
    Oct 31, 2011 - 12:44PM

    Going by the pictures of the rally published yesterday, it would be an exaggeration to put the numbers at 20,000. MQM’s rally was at least 3 times bigger. I am no fan of the MQM but let the truth be told.


  • Oct 31, 2011 - 12:46PM

    it is good that people r involving in political process but Mr abdul, if u send any link of international media( other than Britain) it will strengthen ur point of view. regarding involvement of youth, i must add that in movements it is always youth who give it a different colour. it always happens in pakistan, not only in PPP or in PML nawaz at national level but also in ANP, Baloch nationalist parties , even in religious pol parties youth remains the basic force. so it is not as unique phenomenon as it is being portrayed in media. if PTI becomes a vibrant political party with B and c leaderships it will add in democratic process in Pakistan but one should analyze things factually. still PTI needs a long road in this way and for PTI and Imran Khan, as i wrote earlier it is a success.


  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Oct 31, 2011 - 1:03PM

    CM Secretariat and other agencies are not willing to accept that Imran Khan could have gathered such a huge number of people, who are all out for a change in the system!!


  • SalSal
    Oct 31, 2011 - 1:24PM

    He meant he got his stakes and assets declared here


  • Sara Farid
    Oct 31, 2011 - 1:29PM

    Very interesting story Taha Siddiqui


  • truthisalien
    Oct 31, 2011 - 1:58PM

    It’s WRONG to brand IK as anti-American. Yes, he is honest and
    son of the soil.


  • Salahuddin
    Oct 31, 2011 - 2:18PM

    “Son of the soil”- wowwwwwww since when “establishment” stands for “soil”?


  • Lobster
    Oct 31, 2011 - 2:28PM

    @Noon Meem:
    Not anti-Americanism but pro-Pakistan stance is what makes him distint and dignified.!


    Oct 31, 2011 - 2:33PM

    i am a fan of IK, but the thing that disappointed me was that he gave ultimatum on the basis of assets deceleration, why didn’t he give ultimatum or threat on the basis of steel mills, pia, railways, electricity, judiciary…and specially about MQM…..


  • Irfan Shah
    Oct 31, 2011 - 2:37PM

    The report is titled “Intelligence agencies at PTI rally fight over turn out” and it quotes two intelligence personnel. Doesn’t sound like a fight to me. A misleading title.


  • ik
    Oct 31, 2011 - 2:41PM

    Imran Khan – The Choice of a New GenerationRecommend

  • khurram kaleem
    Oct 31, 2011 - 2:55PM

    I Do Not trust Imran khan !.

  • goggi
    Oct 31, 2011 - 3:12PM

    The phenomenal gathering has no doubt exceeded the threshold and achieved the critical mass!!!!!

    This is the arrival of “Bahar-e-Pakistan!”


  • ali
    Oct 31, 2011 - 3:16PM

    Being anti american IS a requirement for being patriotic!
    You have to HATE your enemy to be the son of the soil!!

    Most people support him because he is anti american


  • gothmog
    Oct 31, 2011 - 3:53PM

    The picture shown of the venue is around the 1 pm time.Show a picture at 6 pm and then gauge the truth. The naysayers will be disaapointed


  • goggi
    Oct 31, 2011 - 4:30PM

    One should then differentiate between anti-american and anti-pentagon-war-hysteria!


  • antanu g
    Oct 31, 2011 - 4:35PM

    @khurram kaleem:
    its your problem. by the way if one tries to please every one he wont be able to please anyone.


  • HG
    Oct 31, 2011 - 5:02PM

    Those who were comparing this with Bhutto Arrival Must remember the Fact that BB has the sympathy of peoples on extra judicial killing of ZAB. While, PTI has other stance and they are not relying on any sympathies, they have agenda and policies on the table and they fact is that CHANGE HAS ARRIVED.


  • Oct 31, 2011 - 5:02PM

    I visited no of blog site today, majority of reader/user support IK may be 80-90 % or more, please start your struggle to support him in every manner and finally must vote him, espacially for khi, Lhr people.


  • Oct 31, 2011 - 5:20PM

    I think Imran’s time has come :)


  • M Bilal
    Oct 31, 2011 - 5:30PM

    @Ashraf P: nice 1… but only if you intended to do some comedy.


  • M Bilal
    Oct 31, 2011 - 5:32PM

    @khurram kaleem: no one would force you to do so!!… thats perhaps a key difference btw PTI and other political parties.


  • MannyK
    Oct 31, 2011 - 5:46PM

    So much for all the support Imran enjoys amongst the youth in the cities. Everyone knows that in Pakistan it is the rural vote that counts; that vote-bank continues to be manipulated by the choudhrys, sardars, waderas, pirs… you get my drift. It’ll take another 20-25 years for them to come around.
    But, let us not abandon hope! I would like to think that this is the beginning of a sea-change in opinion and political activism by the youth. If nothing else, yesterday’s rally proved that there is a viable third option on the ballot!


  • Fayyaz
    Oct 31, 2011 - 5:51PM

    Well it’s a beginning.

    For those who do not trust Imran Khan. Who do you trust then? The current leaders who have been around for years.

    He has shown his capability, being honest, being fair, capable and unconditional (he didn’t accept any deals).

    I don’t really care if he is establishment or not. It is height of pessimism and foolishness to think that way. If he does good for the country which any other government hasn’t done so far, brings electricity, reduces poverty and corruption and massive hike in cost of living, brings justice to criminals and get rid of this “war on terror” that results in ‘khud kush’ blasts every day, He is our hero.

    At least he is NOT PROVEN corrupt and incapable of running the country. His predecessors sure have.

    Give him a chance. You have tried others so many times before and seen the results.


  • Anum
    Oct 31, 2011 - 6:20PM

    @ Tribune,

    Election Commission has extended the date for voters’ registration. I just spoke to the ECP office, in particular Mr Imran Ahmed. He said the press had been informed, but I dont see this notice anywhere. Kindly publish that the ECP has extended the date for registration of voters till the end of this week i.e. Friday. Please publish and encourage people to vote for an honest party this time.


  • PP (Punjabi Pakistani)
    Oct 31, 2011 - 6:37PM

    After this great rally Imran khan should stage a rally in Punjab university to AZAD this university and its student from JI & JTI. Recommend

  • naeem
    Oct 31, 2011 - 6:58PM

    The only true leader in pakistan Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri. my advise for Imran Khan togather with Qadri and call to pakistan nation for revolution (Inqlab).


  • Bangash
    Oct 31, 2011 - 7:04PM

    It was 10,000 combined with camera tricks.


  • Taha S. Siddiqui [Author]
    Oct 31, 2011 - 7:26PM

    Thank you guys for the overwhelming response to this report. I was there personally and in my opinion there were more than 100,000 people who were genuine supporters. Now the challenge will be to materialize them into voters.

    Express Tribune and its team will continue to bring you the latest news on this and other local, national and international issues. Your feedback is always valuable.


  • Aadersh
    Oct 31, 2011 - 7:32PM

    Pakistan has changed…Pakistanis aren’t going to sleep anymore…Move ahead Imran we r with you..!!


  • Ch Allah Daad
    Oct 31, 2011 - 7:43PM

    Son of soil? something new..


  • navran
    Oct 31, 2011 - 7:50PM

    The biggest difference between IK’s and other’s public meeting is that U will see in meetings of other parties poor people with chapples and torn clothes gathered by their Patwari or chaudary in vake of A free food or some money. Whereas in IK’s meeting 70% was youth and rest were middle aged and most of all the educated one, the people who have some vision,the people who are not here for free food or money but by their own choice.Come forward and discuss it out with your elders in your villages and take them out of this Patwari and baradari Dilemma. Its you people who are educated enough to guide your elders who are affraid of their Baradari. May Allah be with Imran Khan and Pakistan….Ameen.


  • Ch Allah Daad
    Oct 31, 2011 - 7:53PM

    One person out of hundred in Lahore showed up and media calls it a Tsunami. With the same ratio he will declared Prime Minister with two seats in assembly.


  • Citizen X
    Oct 31, 2011 - 8:08PM

    @aamir riaz:

    What a joke. I bet when he becomes PM you will say the elections were rigged?Recommend

  • faisal masood
    Oct 31, 2011 - 8:26PM

    i dont know every time they are saying this drone attack has to stop. Everyone before coming to govt said the same thing. They are not giving any solution how to stop these attacks. Create such a situation that america has no reason for doing these acts or simply take steps so that america wil not do anything in future .Recommend

  • Z
    Oct 31, 2011 - 8:30PM

    The big difference from 1986 is that if Imran comes to power there will be real change for the masses and their well being.Their rights, responsiblities will be made clear. Democracy is give and take. It is individual responsiblity just like Islam asks us to perform in our life. No Government can fucntion properly without taxes. A shame that a country of 180 mio only 2 mio pay tax. especially our so called Leaders who have no shame. This status quo has to change. This nation is capable, its people enterrpising and hard working, theya re successful where they go around the world. They have much talent. We need honest leadership to build our country. We have all the assets we need at our disposal but honesty and determination of purpose for the benefit of our country. Now it is left to the people to decide and vote PTI to get Imran to power!


  • Samina Razzaq
    Oct 31, 2011 - 8:33PM

    Where can I see a list of assets of all the PTI leaders? Since we are talking about transparency and declaring assets. How much tax did they pay..and who is paying for all these rallies? They are a million armed people who will happily remove foreign terrorists? Why didn’t they do so in 2004 and 2005 when they signed agreements to do the same with the Musharaf regime? Why didnt they get rid of them before the drone strikes even started? What about the terrorists in Dir and Malakand, did they act up because of drone strikes? What about all the anti-Taliban lashkars, are you going to leave them high and dry once you withdraw the military? What kind of revolution is this where you dont even place the blame where it is due? You will convince India to remove its military from the disputed territory? Thats the plan? How will that happen? Why would they listen to you? How about starting by asking our own military to be accountable to civilian authority? I only ask these questions because the PTI and Imran Khan claim to be a new kind of politics. Any other politician saying these things would just be rhetoric and talking points, but since the PTI actually believes that he will deliver on all of this then please elaborate?Recommend

  • Imran Baig
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:46PM

    PTI is a our last hope.


  • vicky
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:07PM

    we all family is a big supporter of PTI …


  • vicky
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:08PM

    @khurram kaleem: u are sleeping long..


  • Ali S
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:09PM

    I’m trying not to put Imran Khan in that messiah category that so many people seem to be doing here – because then you’re simply setting yourself up for a disappointment regardless of how hard he tries and how clean his intentions maybe. The solution is long and complex, not a quick-fix so-called “revolution” and the public needs to come to grips with that fact.

    With that said, I do think he deserves a chance considering what kind of leadership this nation has already been through – the public is behind him, he has the charisma and his intentions are in the right place, all that’s left is how to apply that practically. He has every shot. Best of luck to him. The Lahore rally was the most inspiring political event this nation has seen in a long time.


  • x
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:17PM

    also, international and independent journalists estimate the figures to be in the region of aorund 200,000 people!


    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:19PM

    5 lac People is attending dis event in my technical opinion … mostly peoples are blocked due to traffic flow


  • Hamid
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:35PM

    @Ashraf P: Nice joke Ashraf..Recommend

  • Sal Sal
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:55PM

    Go to Tehreek e Insaf’s site, you will get all that there. Besides, if you dont like PTI, what do you prefer then? PML-N ? who have been tested TWICE by the Pakistanis and did nothing but corruption? MQM? who has done nothing but shifted sides with the governments all the time? You prefer these over PTI ? I’ll assume that even though you think PTI is not good or clear enough, you atleast believe that they are not as corrupt (IF they are corrupt) compared to the other parties. Allah has given us some kind of a choice now about who to vote. If PTI is useless, it will get ousted very quickly. Then your wish might come true. IMRAN KHAN DESERVES A CHANCE. He has been effective in helping our community. HE HAS HELPED !! He built the only cancer research hospital in PAKISTAN. Gave Pakistan its first ever cricket world cup. Has also built a university for the under-priveleged in Pakistan. He has tried and he has delivered !!! Recommend

  • ali
    Oct 31, 2011 - 11:53PM

    I hope IK can also do rallies in Quetta, Karachi and KPK. IA.


    Nov 1, 2011 - 3:56AM

    DEAR samina leave these things, WE JUST WANT A CHANGE.


  • SAR
    Nov 1, 2011 - 11:06AM

    @aamir riaz:

    you are right we are witness of Benazir Rally and Jalsa, it was huge crowd from Shekhupura to Lahore, PTI had only 1/3 portion filled with crowd that was full at that time. the important thing is that we keenly observed the crowd from Lahore, in between 2-4 there was no traffic jam, on main Gulberg, Canal Road, Ichra road. the people were mainly outsiders not lahorities. thus the Jalsa is one of the biggest of Lahore.


  • Lahore85
    Nov 1, 2011 - 8:23PM

    Bean ur Bhutto in 1986 was the only opposition party it was easier for her to get larger numbers zia was far more unpopular than current ruling Alliance is.


  • Amir
    Nov 2, 2011 - 12:08AM

    @Samina Razzaq:
    i totally agree with you..specially they got mian azhar in their team everyone knows his past…then they got chatta from gujranwala in their who was minister during mushraff regime and they are blaming musharaff and taking men who were working with him…and before going to china on airport he said that if nawaz sharif will declare his assets then we will make alliance with them..even after blasting them in his speech…


  • AAmir
    Nov 2, 2011 - 1:24PM

    @Samina Razzaq: totally agree with you the same thing i am asking that in the whole jalsa and in his previous statements he always blamed musharraf and other parties and their supporters for all the current situation in this country, what about Mian Azhar who was one of the right hand of Musharaff and his histroy everyone knows, .what about Hamid Nasir Chatta who was the minister from Q league during Musharaff regime..i can see a different between words and practice..and specially before leaving to China IK told media that if Nawaz Shareef will declare his assets then we can make alliance with him, even after pure personal critics on him during his jalsa at lahore…i think if i will judge him then i will not only judge him on his personality but also with people with whom he is going to make alliance and who will be with him..and this matters alot..


  • mansoor
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:08AM

    Very cynical. Every democratic country in the world is run by Establishment to some extent.RAW support Bollywood to make stereotypical exaggerated films about Pakistan Army..Oscar of 2009 was given to the film (The Hurt Locker) in honor of american forces in Iraq we could argue that why didn’t they make any film about the Abu Gariab Prison where they humiliated iraqi prisoners. Get real…the corruption is cancer and Imran is focusing on that.


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