Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has convened a party meeting today (Monday) at the Prime Minister House to discuss ways to tackle Dr Tahirul Qadri’s August 10 Youm-e-Shuhda and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) August 14 Azadi March.
According to sources, the prime minister has called his senior leaders – including Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan – to discuss the political mobilisations and suggest which strategy the federal and Punjab governments should adopt to tackle them.
Sources said the government has already decided to allow the PTI to take out their long march and enter Islamabad. They said Nawaz Sharif is not worried about the PTI’s long march but he is concerned about their sit-in at D-Chowk.
The PML-N leaders will also discuss Qadri’s Youm-e-Shuhda and decide whether he should be allowed to hold the event or not. Sources said the Punjab government has reports that on the pretext of Youm-e-Shuhda, Qadri wants to gather in Lahore his workers, who will later be asked to move to Islamabad on that day.They said that after the meeting, either Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid will talk to the media or the PML-N leaders will deliver speeches in the National Assembly to apprise other political parties of the situation.
The prime minister would meet parliamentary leaders of all political parties in the National Assembly, they added. According to sources, Nisar would reply and handle the issue of invocation of Article 245 of the Constitution.
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal confirmed that the party would hold a meeting to discuss the protest calls of opposition parties.
“The party leadership and senior leaders will contemplate the PTI’s Azadi March and Dr Qadri’s Youm-e-Shuhda and will finalise their strategy,” he said, adding that the PTI would be exposed on August 14 after its first long march.
In reply to a question, he said it was not right to compare PTI’s rally with PML-N’s long march in 2008. “PTI’s long march is a political one while PML-N’s long march for the restoration of the judiciary was not a political activity,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th,2014.