Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) protests against the hijacking of elections in Karachi continued on Monday with an added dimension: it was no longer only about demanding voters’ rights but also seeking justice for the killing of Zahra Shahid Hussain, the vice president of the party’s Sindh chapter.
Hundred of PTI activists and supporters had turned up outside Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum on Shahrae Quaideen at around 8:00pm. About a half-kilometre portion of the road had been blocked off for traffic both ways. The protesters sat in the middle of the road where a large screen displaying clips of PTI chief Imran Khan had been set up. The party’s songs were blaring from a sound system set up nearby.
Shortly before the protest, Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan, who had flown in from Lahore for Zahra’s soyem, visited Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum. After offering fateha there, she talked to the media. “PTI’s protests are an example of how to exercise democratic rights to fight injustices. The sacrifice of Zahra aapa will not go in vain.” Responding to a question, she said she had no intentions of joining politics and had come to Karachi to pay her respects to the slain PTI leader.
A little later, she addressed those who had turned up to the protest. “I have come here because my brother is in the hospital. On his behalf, I am here to recognise the sacrifice of Zahra aapa,” she said. “Imran will be allowed to go home in three days and within a week, he will be among his supporters.” She added that PTI had called for a protest to be held outside the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) Office in Islamabad on May 24. “Imran will likely participate in this protest.”
Naz Baloch, who was awarded the party’s ticket for NA-240, said, “The residents of the city are united once again. But this time it’s different because they aren’t united along ethnic lines: the Urdu-speaking community, Baloch, Sindhis, Punjabis and Pashtuns all stood together to demand their rights.” Like Aleema, she said that PTI won’t rest until the men who killed Zahra are apprehended and punished.
Addressing the crowd, PTI leader Fauzia Kasuri, said, “I commend all the brave people who stood against injustices against them.” As the azaan drifted on the protesters, they fell silent and prayed for Zahra’s departed soul.
Party leader Arif Alvi, who according to the unofficial results has emerged as the winner for NA-250, claimed that PTI had even managed to penetrate the areas which were considered MQM strongholds. “Name any area and the votes PTI received will prove this. We did not demand re-polling at 43 stations in NA-250 - that was ECP’s decision. We will never compromise on Karachi’s mandate. We have been demanding fresh elections in all of the city’s constituencies.”
JI turns up too
At around 9:00pm, even the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) turned up at PTI’s protest. Addressing the protesters, JI leader Hafiz Naeemur Rehman said, “Despite MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s threatening calls of breaking Pakistan and terrorism, he himself knows MQM’s mandate has broken apart. The people of Karachi have expressed their complete frustration towards MQM on election day.” He said JI will join PTI’s efforts to liberate Karachi from terrorists. PTI will hold a sit-in at the provincial election commission office at 6pm today.
View a slideshow of the protest here.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2013.
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