On Pakistan’s 68th Independence Day, anti-government drives by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) are headed towards Islamabad to protest against alleged electoral rigging, calling for a resignation by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and introduction of electoral reforms.
Government’s attempt to urge PTI chief Imran Khan to call off march and administratively controlling PAT workers have bore no fruit as both parties are adamant to continue their drive against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.
Fears of violence and clashes persist in Punjab and the federal capital. Roads to Islamabad from Muree and Kashmir have been blocked off for traffic while containers have been installed in various cities in Punjab.
Article 245 has also been invoked in the capital, summoning the army for combating security risks.
You can read the round-up of the happenings of Day One of the march here and the monitoring desk live updates here.
Below are the latest updates and background of events as they unfold today:
Midterm elections not the solution
Qadri said that mid-term elections are not the solution to problems of the poor.
“Problems of 200 million people cannot be solved by vote recounting in a few constituencies,” he said.
He announced that he will be announcing the time frame of the ‘revolution’ any time on Saturday night.
Charter of demands
Dr.Qadri began announcing his charter of demands at around 6pm
He demanded that
- Parliament, cabinet and provincial assemblies should be dissolved
- Govt should take step againstcorrupt political leaders, technocrats and bureaucrats
- A 10-point socio-economic package to tackle poverty
- Every citizen should get bread, clothes and employment
- Education be made free and compulsory
- Health care should be free for the undepriviliged
- Gas and electrivity prices should be brought down
- Women should be given rights, should be employed by home-based industries
- Sectarianism should be eliminated
- Minorities should be protected
‘Those raising a hand on a minority, should have his hand chopped off,’ he said.
- Gilgit-Baltistan, Hazara and South-Punjab should be made into provinces, he demanded.
Qadri further demanded that
- Local bodies elections should be held so that the poor can have their issues resolved without having to travel miles to courts in the metropolitan cities
- Every citizen should be eligible for a loan
- The corrupt are not allowed to hold a public office
- State institutions be depoliticised
PHOTO BY AGENCIES
‘Gullu Butt’ caught in PAT rally
As the PAT chief was speaking, the crowd reportedly apprehended a man carrying a weapon.
Dr.Qadri appealed to the crowd to bring forth the man, terming him a ‘Gullu Butt’ and not beat him.
He hugged the man and announced that he forgives the ‘Gullu Butt of Islamabad’.
Qadri arrives for address
PAT Chief Qadri arrived at the rally at around 5:30pm.
He congratulated the crowd over the news of a session court’s order to book PM Nawaz Sharif, CM Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and 18 others for murder charges over Model Town Incident on June 17.
He demanded that the PM, CM and his ministers should resign from posts and should immediately be arrested for murder trial.
He also demanded that their names to put on the Exit Control List (ECL).
PTI crowd awaits Imran
The PTI rally at Serena Chowk awaits the arrival of Chairman Imran Khan who was expected to address the crowd at 3pm.
PTI leader Shireen Mazari tweets photo refuting media claims that supporters are going back.
Ppl already at Serena Chowk awaiting Chairman IK.Disinfo on media abt crowds but r workers’ jazba speaks 4 itself! pic.twitter.com/SKXRZWrOMp
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) August 16, 2014
Qadri arrives at Aabpara
PAT chief Dr.Tahirul Qadri arrive at the rally at Aabpara chowk at around 1:45pm on Saturday.
Thousands of PAT supporters welcomed their leader.
Addressing the rally, he said that he will not budge from his position until a ‘revolution’ sweeps the country.
” I will stay with my workers and not leave the rally ”even for a second’, he said.
انقلاب کی فتح تک ان شاء اللہ آپ بھی یہیں رہیں گے اور میں بھی آپ کے اندر رہوں گا، آپ کو چھوڑ کر نہیں جاؤں گا۔ #InqilabMarchWithDrQadri
— ڈاکٹر طاہرالقادری (@TahirulQadriUR) August 16, 2014
He said that he will be presenting his charter of demands at 4pm.
He appealed the PAT workers to remain peaceful even if someone resorts to violence and not allow anyone wielding a weapon among the crowd.
“The rulers might have sent a “Gullu Butt’ among you,” he said.
Dr.Qadri further said that the PAT evolution is democratic there is no room for militancy and terrorism in it.
‘We reject violence and want peace,’ he said.
PML-N mock-tweets PTI,PAT
With Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri reportedly on rest, PML-N leaders and supporters continue to mock them on twitter.
— Shahzad Raza (@shahzadrez) August 16, 2014
استعفی لیےبغیر لیڈرکہاں چلےگے
— Mushtaq Minhas (@mushtaqminhas) August 16, 2014
— Zubair Faisal Abbasi (@zubairabbasi) August 16, 2014
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sending food and water to the abandoned Azadi March PTI workers. Making necessary arrangements for them. — Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) August 16, 2014
Meanwhile, the KP political leadership is being criticised for ignoring KP public where 18 people have died of rain-related incidents in Peshawar.
I wish Pervaiz Khattak and swati could come and see this sight,or at least be there to show token support.
— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) August 15, 2014
— Rao Ali (@itsali7) August 15, 2014
— Irfan Khattak (@irnu2012) August 15, 2014
Stages set for Azadi, Inqilab
PAT has set up a stage at Aabpara Chowk for the rally while on Serena Chowk, a stage has been set up by PTI.
PAT protesters in high spirit
PAT protest continues in to Saturday morning Aabpara chowk in Khayaban-e-Saharwardi.
Workers, while speaking to reporters, vowed to not move from the location until their leader Dr. Tahirul Qadri directs them to.
Pomi Butt let free
Pomi Butt, younger brother of PML-N Gujranwala MPA Imran Khalid Butt and seven of his accomplices were granted bail by a local court before Saturday noon.
Butt was accused of inciting his workers to attack PTI’s ‘Azadi Marchers’ in Gujranwala.
He surrendered himself to police on Friday evening under pressure on PML-N by PTI and was locked up in Sabzi Mandi Police Station.
Butt has, however, denied any involvement in the attack.
High fevered Khan
Imran Khan is reportedly suffering from a high fever after he addressed the crowd early on Saturday in rain after a two-day journey, covering 370 kms, from Lahore to Islamabad.
Sources add that is Khan taking rest in his Bani Gala residence and will join the rally at 3pm.
The #AzadiDharna reconvenes at 3pm – multiple teams on the ground assisting 100’s of people – Insha’Allah we are here for Pakistan
— PTI (@PTIofficial) August 16, 2014
CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif said has termed Imran Khan and Dr.Qadri’s demands unconstitutional.
He said that both Azadi March and Inqilab March are bound to fail as the public has rejected them.