PDM workers storm their way into Multan stadium

By: News Desk      Published: 02:58 PM, 28 Nov, 2020
PDM workers storm their way into Multan stadium

A large number of opposition activists, mostly from the PPP and the PML-N, removed all the barricades and entered the Qasim Bagh Stadium after breaking locks at multiple gates on Saturday afternoon, where the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has planned to stage a rally, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Led by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s sons Ali Haider and Ali Musa, the opposition workers first removed the containers using a crane and then other barricades as police failed to stop the charged crowd. 

Some policemen opted to leave the area as the opposition members entered the stadium where they will make preparations for the November 30 public gathering.

Meanwhile, the opposition workers have vowed that they will stay in the stadium till the Monday’s rally is over.

In a tweet, Ali Kasim Gilani said they had set up a camp at the venue to welcome the participants and the provincial leaders of different parties would arrive there soon 

The development came as the district administration said they would not allow any gathering of more than 300 persons. However, there were well over 1,000 opposition activists carrying PPP, PML-N and JUI-F flags initially on Saturday afternoon.

But their number was increasing with each passing moment as more and more people have started reaching the stadium.

Meanwhile, funeral prayers in absentia were also offered in the stadium for late Begum Shamim Akhtar – the mother of Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif. PML-N MNA Abdul Rehman Kanju and other party leaders including Sheikh Tahir Rashid too were present on the occasion. 

Later, PPP leader Saeed Ghani and JUI-F Secretary General Maulana Abdul Ghafoor also arrived at the venue.

Talking to media, Ghani said they were not doing anything illegal. “We are exercising our democratic right to assemble,” he stressed.

Ghani said they would not surrender their political and democratic rights. “Our workers are charged, the government won’t be able to stop them,” he asserted.

Similarly, Haideri blasted the government and demanded immediate release of the arrested opposition workers.

On the other hand, police in Kahror Pakka – a town in Lodhran district – registered a case against Abdul Rehman Kanju for organising a workers’ convention yesterday.

According to police, they are conducting raids and will soon arrest the nominated persons who are accused of violating the coronavirus SOPs.

But Kanju, in his response, said the PTI government had panicked, adding that the public meeting would be held at every cost. 

Likewise, cases were also registered against PML-N MNA Chaudhry Faqir Arain and two MPAs – Khalid Mehmood Dogar and Chaudhry Yousaf Kaselya – in Burewala.

Reacting to the move, the PML-N leaders said political victimisation, arrests and fake cases could neither stop nor frighten them.    

Earlier in the day, 24NewsHD TV channel reported that although the government was using every available tool to stop the event which corresponds with the PPP’s foundation day, the opposition would go ahead with the plan to hold the rally.

Although the city’s main road is being closed and barricades placed everywhere, it has been decided that 3,000 members of Ansar-ul-Islam – a sister organisation of JUI-F – will perform the security duties at Qasim Bagh Stadium, the venue selected for the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) rally.

The public gathering will mark the appearance of Aseefa Bhutto Zardari in the political arena as PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto could not participate in person for being in isolation after getting infected by the coronavirus. Instead, he will address the crowd via video link.

In this way, the main attraction of the day would be two women – Aseefa and Maryam Nawaz.

The PML-N vice-president had announced the other day that she would attend the event despite the demise of her grandmother Begum Shamim Akhtar. In this connection, she told media persons in Lahore that Nawaz Sharif, the party supremo, directed her for the purpose.

As far as the steps taken by the government are concerned, it is the containers that have been placed around the Qasim Bagh Stadium to contain the opposition. The move came after the police requested for 60 containers for the purpose.

The people, however, are facing great hardships as a result of the closure of this main thoroughfare.

Meanwhile, PPP leader Kasim Gillani retweeted a tweet that says that the administration has started blocking all the entry points of the city and poured water in Qasim Bagh Stadium. “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION,” Kasim said in the caption of his retweet,  

But it is not just Multan where the administration is taking measures as transporters in Rahim Yar Khan have stopped their service under severe pressure. That’s why they have started returning the advance to the intending passengers for Multan.

Reacting to the development, the PML-N district president, Mian Imtiaz, claimed that the transporters were threatened that their vehicles would be impounded to stop them running their service for southern Punjab’s main city.

He, however, said that the administration won’t be able to sabotage the ally no matter what steps they were going to take.

Meanwhile, the schedule released by the PDM says the rally will start 1pm with the provincial leaders’ speeches. Later, the central leaders of the component parties are going to deliver their addresses at 3pm with JUI chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman to speak after sunset (Maghrib prayers).