Gujranwala- Staff Reporter:
The Opposition parties will hold their first public gathering in Gujranwala today amid government’s challenge to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders to fill the Jinnah Stadium in the city with its supporters.
Information Minister Shibli Faraz had challenged the opposition parties to fill the stadium with its supporters, instead of troubling the public on roads. Vowing to bring the supporters in large numbers, the PML-N asked the federal minister to resign if the venue is jam-packed.
Top opposition leaders including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto are scheduled to address the participants at the stadium.
The recently-formed PDM has announced to hold a series of protest rallies in major cities in the next couple of months to oust the “selected” government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
According to details, PDM chief Maulana Fazl will lead the JUI-F caravan from Lahore’s Jamia Ashrafia to Gujranwala while the workers and supporters of the party have been directed to reach the rally venue directly.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto arrived at the residence of Qamar Zaman Kaira in Gujrat on Thursday where he reviewed the arrangements for the rally. Reportedly, he will lead the PPP workers from there to the stadium later in the day.
‘Not afraid of arrests’
PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz, while addressing a meeting held at the Jati Umra residence of the Sharif family, said the party leaders and workers were not afraid of arrests and they would actively participate in Friday’s rally in Gujranwala despite all blockages and arrests.
Condemning workers’ arrests, Maryam said the PML-N was not afraid of government’s tactics to scare them with arrest. “In-sha-Allah, our movement will be successful and Gujranwala’s rally will be a massive show,” she added.
Senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said the PDM was allowed to hold rally in Gujranwala only after it threatened to block the GT Road. He demanded the government to stop raids and arrests of workers.
Announcing the schedule of Maryam Nawaz, he said that she would leave Jati Umra after Friday prayers and reach Gujranwala stadium around 6pm. He said the PML-N and the PDM leadership had accepted the challenge of Shibli Faraz to fill Jinnah Stadium.
“Coronavirus is being used for the same nefarious political purpose,” he said adding such tactics will not stop people from coming out of their homes to attend the public rally. He said the government had badly failed to check price-hike, provide employment opportunities and control inflation.
As per the plan, Maryam Nawaz will reach Thokar Niaz Beg from Jati Umra and proceed to Babu Sabu Interchange through Multan Road. Then she will reach Shahdara Mor through Ring Road to take the GT Road.
Awami National Party (ANP) leader Iftikhar Hussain, while addressing a press conference, said “removal of the government and holding of a free and fair election in the country is our major demand.
We will carry on our struggle till fulfilment of this demand.” Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, MNA Khurram Dastgir Khan and other leaders also addressed the press conference.
28-point agreement signed with PDM
The opposition alliance was given permission on Thursday after the Gujranwala District Administration and the PDM reached a 28-point agreement on how the jalsa would be held.
The agreement states that all coronavirus SOPs will be strictly implemented throughout the jalsa, and that attendees will not enter the jalsa venue without masks and sanitisers.
The organisers will also have to install walk-through gates and sanitisers at the entrance and exit gates of the venue. Cars will be allowed to be parked at a distance from the venue of the jalsa. The PDM will arrange lighting at the venue and ensure there is no display of weaponry or fireworks at the venue.
The seating arrangements will have to be such that there is a 3-6 feet distance between the attendees at all times.
The PDM has also been told that none of its leaders are to make speeches at any place other than Jinnah Stadium, and there will be no ‘welcoming camps’ at GT Road.
The two parties have also agreed that there will be no wall-chalking/graffiti in relation to the jalsa, and that party banners will be put up after securing permission from the relevant departments.
The district administration has also secured guarantees that the speeches being made will not target any national security institutions or make any statements that may conflict with the Constitution.
In case of the violation of the agreement, the district administration will be entitled to take appropriate action and register cases against the PDM leaders.