As majority of the nation is hooked to television screens to watch thousands of hyped-up Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters stage a sit-in in the federal capital, residents of Lahore’s Model Town want to know the government’s rationale for ‘containing’ them for more than a week.
Talking to Pakistan Today, businessman Rana Asif, a resident of Model Town said, “Lahore’s most posh area was under siege for a week, with the residents rendered immobile and waiting for water and food supplies.”
He said that mobility, a fundamental right, was usurped as the government “laid siege” to entire neighborhood.
“There were streets where you could enter but were not allowed to leave. All life was jammed for a week; but for what?”
“If the government was going to allow the leaders of the long marches to enter the capital, where they are talking fierily of “Inqilab” and “Azadi”, why were we held hostage?” Asif asked.
As the announced day for the start of Imran Khan-led PTI and Dr Tahirul Qadri-led PAT’s anti-government marches loomed near, the government reacted like there would be some tectonic shift in the Capital and losing all faith in its two-third majority in the Lower House, the province of Punjab was blocked with containers within hours.
A large number of containers were deployed in Lahore’s Model Town area, in a bid to ‘contain’ PAT chief Qadri.
WHERE DID THE CONTAINERS COME FROM?:
No one really cares where this flood of containers came from overnight except those traders and businessmen who are still waiting for their consignments forcefully snatched and used to block roads during one of the most extensive exercise in policing in recent history.
Many containers are still lying on all major roads of the metropolitan and the capital.
A businessman from Karachi said on the condition of anonymity, “A container full of finished goods was on its way to Karachi when the police stopped it and used it to block the road near Bund Road (Lahore). I came over all the way, hired another empty container, bribed the police official in charge to place the empty container on the roads instead of ours and all of it cost me Rs50,000.”
Thousands of other such traders are waiting for their containers, many of which are reportedly carrying food items, said the businessman.
INTERIOR MINSTER’S ROLE:
A senior Punjab official requesting anonymity said that all these moves can be traced back to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who was pulling the strings from the Capital over all that happened in Lahore.
Recently, Nisar had reportedly had a rift with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s leaders Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif when PM Nawaz had reportedly by-passed the interior minister and directly contacted the army and agencies. Nisar was finally wooed by the PML-N top leadership to resume his duty as interior minister.
“In a bid to have his presence felt, Nisar is calling the shots by issuing directions to the inspectors general of all provinces, Frontier Constabulary, Rangers, Army and the agencies,” the official said, adding that Nisar orchestrated these “stunts” in Lahore only to prove the presence of an interior minister and interior ministry.