The rights of the common man are enshrined in the 1973 Constitution, but this document has never been implemented in Pakistan in its true spirit, PAT leader Dr Tahirul Qadri said on Saturday while addressing his supports who have been encamped outside the Parliament House for the past five days.
“The rulers have violated the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution,” he said, adding that his demands were legitimate and constitutional because he was fighting for the rights of the oppressed class, whose rights have been usurped. “People of are the real heirs of the country.”
The Constitution has always been put in abeyance in Pakistan, he said, alleging that the federation was being run by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and all the decisions were taken by him. “Shahbaz is the de facto prime minister.” Qadri questioned why a provincial chief minister was handling the affairs that fall under the federal domain.
“There are two different laws in this country – one for the rich and the other for the poor,” he said and referred to the Model Town tragedy, where cases against those involved in the killing of 14 people have not been registered for the last two months.
Holding their ground
Under the scorching sun in the day and torrential rains by night, PAT supporters say they use tents and trees as roofs and the grass as their carpet during the sit-in in front of the Parliament House.
“The challenges cannot defeat us, but we are hurt because of the attitude of the rulers who have denied us justice, which is our fundamental right,” said Uroosa, a PAT supporter.
Nevertheless, the situation at the sit-in site is becoming more difficult with every moment for the thousands of participants. “We do not have access to food, clean drinking water and washrooms,” said a PAT volunteer.
“My skin got infected after bathing with water from the drain near the NADRA office,” said another young man from south Punjab. “We don’t even have access to drinking water, we cannot afford mineral water.”
Additionally, they are having trouble doing their laundry due to limited water and space. Despite this, many women and men are forced to wash their clothes on the Constitution Avenue and are hanging them on fences of nearby buildings, be it the Supreme Court or the Prime Minister’s Secretariat. “Besides other difficulties, I have not been able to bathe or wash my clothes since I joined the Inqilab march,” said Jamil Khan, another participant from Bhakkar.
Despite all these difficulties, not a single supporter’s resolve could be seen wavering and all of them are committed to sit there until their demands are fulfilled.
Qadri alleged that government has sent terrorists to the Red Zone. “We have received information that something untoward will happen tonight… There is high degree of threat from the government tonight,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2014.