As the confrontation between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Centre escalates, supporters of the ruling party in K-P seemed undeterred by “container politics” and press on in their preparations to join the Azadi March to D-Chowk in Islamabad at all costs.
PTI registration camps were full of party workers on Sunday; the decision taken during the core committee’s meeting on Sunday to not hold talks with the federal government caused an influx of even more supporters.
One of the organisers of the march, Saifullah Niazi, said around 100,000 people had registered. However, he could not give an exact figure of the number of supporters who had not yet registered but would probably join the march.
Right to assemble
“It is our constitutional and democratic right to hold a peaceful protest and press for our demands,” PTI K-P President Azam Swati told The Express Tribune over the phone. “We are doing the same thing Nawaz Sharif did in 2009 and I would like to remind the police they are serving Pakistan, not a political party.” According to Swati, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief should pay for the loss of any life or property during the march from his own pocket.
Swati said the party has asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down and reiterated that no talks were being held through any channel of communication. Swati was confident the only way out for Sharif would be resignation.
PTI provincial spokesperson Ayesha Gulalai said registration camps were overcrowded and people were anxiously waiting to head towards the federal capital. She added PML-N would be shooting itself in the foot if it created any hurdles for the demonstrators.
“We are fully prepared and the number of people marching to the capital has exceeded the original target of 20,000 from each district,” said Gulalai.
The Insaf Student Federation’s central leadership also decided to reach the federal capital amid a possible confrontation with the Punjab government across Attock.
“If PML-N decides to bar 80,000 students from entering Punjab, it will lead to a serious confrontation,” said ISF central leader Meena Khan Afridi.
“Azadi March! Please join a registration camp today at Dalazak Road near Maqsood Tailors at 4pm,” read the first text message sent out by one of PTI’s K-P legislators.
In order to transport the supporters the party is attempting to enlist, PTI’s K-P and Fata chapters have already started booking vehicles.
Mujahid Khan, the president of the Kohat bus terminal, told The Express Tribune that drivers from PK-10, Peshawar 10 refused to rent their vehicles, despite an offer to double the fare. They believed PTI failed to tackle the issues faced by transporters in the constituency.
Nonetheless, party workers continued to book vehicles in the city to ensure they would reach the march on time.
Getting into the march and rally spirit, over in Charsadda, hundreds of PTI activists took part in a motorcycle rally held in Shabqadar on Sunday.
Another rally was taken out from Umerzai tehsil and participants gathered at Farooq Azam Chowk, Charsadda, after passing through various areas of the district.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th,2014.