LAHORE: There is more politics and less method to counting crowds and this has never been truer than recently when various security and law enforcement agencies were tasked with taking count of the crowds gathered by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in Islamabad. The results varied according to agency and who they were reporting to.
Though it offered varying estimates, the Special Branch (answerable directly to the Punjab chief minister) reported that the PAT crowd beat the PTI’s numbers with a narrow margin. On the other hand, the federal government’s security agencies said the Azadi March crowd was bigger than the PAT’s.
According to the security establishment and police, the highest number of Azadi March participants was 30,000. The Special Branch said there were between 21,000 and 22,000 participants. The Home Department reported at most 21,000 PTI supporters.
The Special Branch said there were at most 32,000 people at the PAT demonstration. The security establishment claimed they were at most 25,000 and the police and Home Department said there were 20,000 at most at the PAT Inqilab March.
The security establishment and police said 30,000 people were present at the PTI camp during Imran Khan’s speech during the PTI’s demonstration on Sunday. The Home Department however reported a 21,000-strong crowd the same day.
According to an extract of the August 14 Daily Situation Report by the Special Branch the PAT Inqilab March had between 12,500 and 13,000 workers at around 2pm. When the convoy reached FC College Underpass, the numbers swelled to almost 17,000 people at around 6pm.
The PTI’s Azadi March began with almost 12,500 participants. The number had swelled to almost 17,000 by 2:15pm but fell to between 15,000 and 16,000 people at around 10pm, the report says.
The Daily Situation Report for August 15 says the number of participants in Azadi March was between 21,000 and 22,000 at around 5pm when the convoy crossed the River Chenab Bridge.
The report says the number of participants at PAT’s Inqilab March was between 14,500 and 15,000 at around 1:35pm when the convoy crossed Sadhoke. The number rose to almost 16,000 when the convoy left Gujranwala. The report says there were up to 29,000 participants recorded at around 11:25pm and the number swelled to around 32,000 people when the convoy left Jeddah Chowk in Jhelum.
The Daily Situation Report for August 17 says the number of PTI Azadi March participants was between 15,000 and 16,000 from 2:30pm to 4:30pm at the Kashmir Highway in front of the Islamabad Sports Complex. The crowd thinned to almost 11,000 people between 7pm and 2:05am.
The report says there were around 18,000 PAT supporters at PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri’s address at Khayaban-i-Sohrawardi Road, Aabpara Chowk.
According to the report issued on August 18, the number of PTI supporters was between 7,000 and 8,000 from 11am to 1:45pm. The number swelled to between 18,000 and 19,000 during PTI chief Imran Khan’s speech at Kashmir Highway at 9:10pm.
According to the report on Sunday, the number of PAT supporters went up to 21,000 from 5:30pm to 6:25pm during Qadri’s speech.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th,2014.