KARACHI: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has finally been granted permission by the home department to hold their rally, as planned, on December 25 at the ground adjacent to Quaid-e-Azam's mausoleum.
Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wasan made the announcement after a detailed discussion with PTI leaders at the home department on Wednesday. The additional chief secretary of the home department, Waseem Ahmed, said that the Sindh government never really had an issue with them holding a rally in the first place.
Officials from the home department said that the grounds did not fall under their jurisdiction and their control came under a federal-level body called the Quaid-i-Azam Trust. "The problem was that the political party was insisting to hold the rally on the same day as the Quaid's birthday," said an official. "We already had plans to hold an event for the Quaid's birthday."
PTI Sindh President Naeemul Haque, however, said that the idea was not to overshadow the Quaid's birthday. "We are actually celebrating the Quaid's birthday, not overshadowing it," he said. "We are trying to remind people about Mohammad Ali Jinnah's message. We are trying to remind them of faith, unity and discipline, especially national unity."
He added that the matter was sorted out and the mausoleum's management gave them permission to hold the rally.
Home department officials had earlier asked PTI officials to hold their rally at an alternative venue such as Nishtar Park. "Even in the meeting we asked them what was more important - the Quaid's birthday or the PTI rally," said Ahmed. "But they wouldn't listen to us."
Security measures taken by the government for the rally were also discussed at the meeting. An official from the home department said that the police and Rangers will be deployed.
Haque said that the security plan would be discussed and drawn up in the next couple of days with input from the home department, the police and Rangers. He added that the home department had assured PTI leaders that the security would be taken care of and they would have to work closely with the traffic police as massive traffic arrangements would have to be made.
Haque said that there will be no politicians joining PTI at the event itself, any announcements will be made separately and before or after the December 25 event. He also declined to give an exact number of how many people the party expects will be attending, but believes it will be in hundreds of thousands.
PTI secretary general Arif Alvi and PTI leader Firdous Naqvi were also present at the meeting.
December 25 is a national holiday and senior government officials, dignitaries and schoolchildren usually go to the mausoleum to pay their respects to the founder of the nation.
Father Wilson John Gill and Pastor Maria from the Christian community joined the PTI on Wednesday. The PTI's women's wing Sindh President Zehra Shahid invited the Christian community to participate in their upcoming rally on December 25.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2011.