LAHORE, March 25, 2023: The authorities concerned have blocked various roads, including entry and exit points, in the Punjab capital to thwart the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) public gathering at Minar-i-Pakistan tonight (Saturday).
The political show comes despite postponement of elections in Punjab as Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has excused from holding polls due to financial and security constraints.
All roads leading to Minar-i-Pakistan have been barricaded by parking trucks carrying shipping containers while Ravi bridge and Thokar Niaz Baig – the two major entry and exit points – have also been closed for traffic. The measures to prevent the political gathering caused hurdles for commuters who headed for their jobs and workplaces earlier in the day.
The areas where containers have been placed include Shah Alam Market, Bansawala Bazaar and the railway station.
In a tweet, the City Traffic Police said the following roads are closed for traffic “from Lohay Wali Pulli towards Sabzi Mandi ,outgate Lorri Adda towards Sabzi Mandi, R/O Lorri Adda towards Sabzi Mandi, both sides of old Ravi bridge, both sides of new Ravi bridge, Barkat Pulli towards Shahdara, Masti gate towards Railway Station, Railway Station towards Masti Gate, lk Moria bridge towards Railway Station, Railway Station towards Ik Moria from beneath and flyover, Bohar Wala Chowk, Railway Road, Brendth Road and Hafiz hotel, District Chowk towards Workshop Chowk both sides, Peer Makki U-turn both sides, Retigun chowk towards SSP corner. The police have asked people to take alternate routes.
‘Tonight’s Jalsa will break all records’
Despite restrictions on roads, PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan is optimistic about his successful power show. Taking to Twitter, he said tonight the PTI will hold its sixth gathering at Minar-i-Pakistan and “my heart tells me it will break all records”.
“I am inviting everyone in Lahore to attend (the event) after Tarawih prayers. I will give my vision of Haqeeqi Azadi & how we will pull Pak[istan] out of the mess the cabal of crooks have put our country in,” he wrote.
“They will put all sorts of hurdles to prevent people from attending, but I want to remind our people that it is their fundamental right to attend a political gathering. Everyone must assert their right as people of a free nation that won its independence & come to Minar i Pakistan.”
On Friday night, PTI leaders Azam Swati, Hammad Azhar and Zulfi Bukhari visited the venue to review preparations for the jalsa. Speaking to media, Mr Azhar said the Met Office had predicted rains but pledged to hold the power show in every situation. “We have made arrangements to pump out water from the ground,” he said.
He said the route for arrival of Imran Khan had been kept secret due to security reasons, adding that a bullet-proof stage had been prepared for the former premier.
Speaking on the occasion, Zulfi Bukhari said: “Whether wicket is dry or wet, we will play tonight”.
Crackdown on PTI
Meanwhile, police have arrested several PTI leaders and workers in a wide-scale crackdown in various cities across the country.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar said a massive crackdown on party activists was launched in Islamabad. He said even injured party workers had been arrested.
Police conducted overnight raids to arrest the PTI workers and leaders in Lahore, Vehari, Burewala, Bhakkar, Mian Channu and other cities.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Friday said the collation government would not bow to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s stubborn attitude.
Rana Sanaullah said the PTI chairman was continuously challenging the writ of the state, adding he had spread chaos in the country for the last 11 months. The minister advised the PTI chief to correct his attitude as he had disregarded the political traditions of the country. “If he [Imran] considers himself a politician, then he should try to solve the political crisis by sitting with the political forces,” he added.
He further advised Imran Khan to face his cases and appear before courts without creating chaos as the politicians had done in the past.
He reminded that it was on record that the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) was politically victimised, but despite facing this ‘political storm’, the PML-N did not try to cause political instability in the country.