LAHORE: Mall Road and adjoining thoroughfares were blocked for traffic as preparations went underway on Tuesday for the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT)-led joint opposition protest in Lahore on Wednesday.
Traffic on routes connecting to Mall Road as well as other main arteries of the city like Kacheri Road and Hall Road were severely affected by the blockage and commuters remained stuck in the snarling traffic mess that was created by the special preparations for the protest.
Containers were placed on Faisal Chowk alongside an 80-foot-long stage which will be used by the leadership of different parties to speak to the protesters.
The protest venue is expected to extend to GPO Chowk. As many as 200 sofas will be positioned in front of the main stage for the central leadership.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government decided Monday night to offer full-fledged security to the participants of a sit-in, according to sources.
On the day of the protest, strict checking will be conducted at the city’s entry and exit points, sources in the provincial government added, explaining that police officers on duty will remain unarmed.
Police personnel from adjoining cities will also be called on duty in order to provide additional security to the protesters on a larger scale.
The united opposition, which includes Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Awami Muslim League (AML), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), has announced the commencement of anti-government protests.
The movement is aimed at mounting pressure on Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah to resign for their alleged role in the 2014 Model Town incident which resulted in deaths of PAT members.
Earlier, on Monday a bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected a petition to restrain the Pakistan Awami Tehreek-led political alliance from launching their protest drive from January 17 and referred the case to LHC Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah to constitute a larger bench to hear the case.
A joint committee of anti-government parties let by Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) on January 13, formally sought Punjab government’s permission for carrying out the protest at Lahore’s Mall Road.
According to reports a joint request to hold a protest against the 2014 Model Town incident was submitted by representatives of the joint opposition parties to Lahore Division’s Commissioner Abdullah Khan Sumbal and Lahore District Commissioner Sumair Ahmad Syed.
The request stated that the committee “has decided to hold a protest rally at Charing Cross Chowk on the Mall Road on Jan 17 to protest [against] the denial of justice to 14 Shuhada (martyrs) and about 100 injured in the carnage and shootout [that occurred] on June 17, 2014 at Model Town, Lahore at the hands of Punjab Police; and the Punjab government’s complacency [is] resulting in inordinate delay. Please make necessary administrative and security arrangements for the event on the date and venue mentioned above.”
Meanwhile, PAT chief Tahirul Qadri has said that the next course of action against the Punjab government would be announced on Wednesday, during the protest of the opposition’s parties.