Notwithstanding the interim Punjab government’s “danger notice” that terrorists may attack political activities in the provincial capital, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) held its annual jalsa on Saturday at Lahore’s historic Minar-e-Pakistan stadium.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who was deposed as Prime Minister in April last year and is entangled in a slew of investigations, will address the throng from a bulletproof container stationed at the jalsa field to assure his safety.
The caretaker administration stated in the danger notice that terrorists carrying explosive materials had arrived in Lahore and will either attack political gatherings or law enforcement personnel assigned to secure those events.
While the party prepares for the gathering, the government has placed containers on the road leading to Minar-e-Pakistan, creating obstacles for those wishing to participate in the jalsa.
Nevertheless, interim Punjab Information Minister Amir Mir stated in his statement that people are not being prevented from attending the march due to barricades, but that law enforcement forces are guaranteeing residents’ safety through these steps.
The minister further stated that employees from any political party are not barred from attending the demonstration and that the government has granted the PTI permission to host the gathering.
The pathways between Ravi Bridge and Train Station to Minar Pakistan have been closed, and containers have been positioned at the city’s Shah Alam Market.
The Sagian Bridge and the Engineering University Road are both blocked. Containers have blocked the Shahdara, Ravi Toll Plaza, and Bati Chowk pathways to Minar-e-Pakistan, as well as the Niazi Chowk, Delhi Gate, and Dumuria Bridge.
On the other side, around 50 PTI workers have been detained in various regions of Rahim Yar Khan, while 26 workers, including PTI leader Javed Akhtar Ansari’s son, have been arrested in Multan, according to Geo News.
The PTI stated that numerous workers from Lodhran and Bhakkar had also been arrested.
PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the local administration has filled the city with barriers to undermine the party’s scheduled public protest, indicating concern in the government camp.
“What gives them the right to call themselves democratic? Are PML-N workers being detained?” Qureshi made the remarks hours before the PTI’s Minar-e-Pakistan protest.
According to him, the district administration had told the carriers that any truck flying PTI flags would be denied entry into Lahore.
“Despite all the impediments, people will come,” the PTI leader added, cautioning employees not to break the law.
It was their constitutional right to hold a peaceful public meeting, according to Qureshi, who also questioned why highways were closed under the guise of security yet the PTI was permitted to march at Minar-e-Pakistan.
“We must protect the constitution and support the courts,” the PTI senior member stated, adding, “What is occurring in Lahore is visible to everyone.”
“The district administration appears powerless as well as crippled.
Why would they barricade the city with shipping containers after allowing us to exercise our constitutional right to free expression?”