- PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri demands justice for killed party workers, says only General Raheel Sharif can punish perpetrators of Model Town massacre
- Tells party supporters to prepare for prolonged sit-in protest after Eidul Fitr in case they don’t get justice from quarters concerned
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri on Friday vowed to continue his struggle till justice is dispensed to those who killed his party’s workers in the Model Town massacre two years ago, as he asked his followers to prepare for a prolonged sit-in protest in Lahore after Ramzan until the party is administered justice for its ‘martyred’ workers.
The PAT staged a sit-in at Mall Road on Friday evening to mark the second anniversary of the killings of party workers who were gunned down in clashes with the Punjab Police in Model Town, Lahore.
Addressing thousands of participants who had turned up to attend the sit-in protest against the Punjab government, Tahirul Qadri said that he is not afraid and will not back down as “life and death is in the hands of the Almighty”.
Addressing the participants of the sit-in, Qadri said that Army Chief General Raheel Sharif was the only person in the country who can provide justice to the families of the deceased party workers.
“Families of the victims of the Model Town massacre were offered blood money and other privileges but they refused. They will not sell the blood of their loved ones for any amount of money,” he said.
“Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif claims that he works for 22 hours every day so I ask him now whether he had been asleep all day when his police force was firing live bullets at unarmed people,” he said, adding that he was seeing the end of the Sharif government by September.
Qadri said that several people are killed in the country every day but the system has failed in providing justice to the oppressed people. “This system strengthens the cruel while the poor and helpless people are forced to put up their lives, dignity and self respect on sale to survive in this country,” he said.
The PAT chief added that the government had brushed Justice Baqir Najfi’s enquiry report under the carpet and the party had been unable to receive justice from the courts despite the passage of two years.
“We just need justice and Qisas (blood against blood) for the martyrs of the Model Town incident,” he demanded, adding that they would not agree to anything less than that.
Qadri then asked his followers if they were prepared to continue the sit-in on Mall Road until they received justice in the Model Town case. His followers endorsed the call but the PAT chief later announced that the sit-in would end after Fajr prayers as “PAT leader Khurram Gandapur had inadvertently promised the district administration that the party would end their sit-in after Sehri”.
“We keep promises made by our people therefore we will end our sit-in as communicated to the administration. However, we are ready to hold a prolonged sit-in on a week’s notice if we are not given justice,” he said.
Speaking before Qadri,, Pakistan Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that the nation should come on the roads to bring an end to the “cruel” Sharif government.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Chaudhry Sarwar said that all political parties are struggling for justice in the country.
PPP leader Latif Khosa said that there is no hope of justice in presence of the current rulers. “The PML-N government has no respect for the constitution, rule of law and judiciary,” he said.
Earlier, in a video message, Qadri had said that the duration of the party’s sit-in organised in Lahore will depend upon the attitude adopted by the government towards the protestors traveling to take part in the sit-in from other cities. He said that he will announce his next plan during his speech and that he could end the sit-in or continue.
Qadri said that if violence takes place then the sit-in will be prolonged indefinitely, adding that he has received minor complains from different areas.
SUPPORT FROM OTHER PARTIES:
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had all announced support for the PAT’s sit-in. The sit-in was joined by leaders and delegates of various political parties.
Former Punjab governor Latif Khosa and Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo represented Pakistan People’s Party, Sheikh Rashid represented Awami Muslim League while Kamil Ali Agha and Raja Basharat represented Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q).
Despite the fasting month, the participants had started gathering at the venue of the sit-in since afternoon. The charged participants kept chanting anti-government slogans, while party songs also kept them entertained. They were holding party’s flags and banners while many had placards which displayed anti government slogans.
The PAT management had informed the media that the token sit-in will start on Friday after the Iftar and will continue until Isha prayers. Tahirul Qadri, however, did not make an appearance until 11 pm.
It was also reported that the PAT management had arranged Sehri meals consisting of Haleem and Naan for 50,000 potential participants. Some of the protestors had brought Sehri with them to the sit-in.
The main stage was installed a small distance from Charing Cross towards Masjid-e-Shuhada, even though it was earlier announced that it would be installed at Faisal Chowk in front of the Punjab Assembly.
Police has taken strong measures to secure the participants of the sit-in. According to police sources 2,300 police personnel were deployed at the venue, while 250 traffic wardens were also deployed to maintain the flow of traffic.
PAT has also arranged a sit-in at Numaish Chorangi in Karachi in connection with the anniversary of the Model Town massacre. A large number of women and children participated in Karachi’s sit-in also. They lit candles in memory of the deceased.