The opposition’s newly formed Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is all set to stage its first rally in Guranwala’s Jinnah’s stadium on Friday (today) in an effort to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.
Led by JUI-F Chairman Fazlur Rehman, PDM consists of more than 10 parties including PML-N, PPP and ANP.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is also likely to address the rally via video link from London, according to the PML-N.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz would leave her residence in Jati Umra after Friday prayers and reach the venue by 6pm.
@NawazSharifMNS will address Gujranwala jalsa, Insha’Allah! Arrangements being made. What a moment it would be ! ✌🏼
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) October 14, 2020
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari reached Lalamusa in Gujrat on Thursday and is likely to leave for Gujranwala in the form of a convoy leading PPP workers.
Fazl would leave for the venue from on Ferozepur Road, Lahore in form of a convoy. It would be received at Ichra, Jan Mandir, Bati Chowk, Imamia Colony and Muridke.
The Punjab Government has allowed the opposition to hold the rally at Jinnah Stadium under strict conditions.
In a 28-point undertaking submitted to the authorities, PML-N leaders agreed to the conditions which include that participants of the opposition’s grand show would not be allowed to enter the venue without a mask and sit at a distance of three to six feet from each other.
Slogans that are “anti-state/objectionable/offensive” and speeches against constitutional offices, armed forces and judiciary had been prohibited.
The organisers would install walk-through gates and provide sanitisers at the entrance and exit gates of the venue.
The PDM would arrange lighting at the venue and ensure that there is no display of weaponry or fireworks.
There would be no wall-chalking in the city in connection with the rally and party banners would be put up only after the permission from the relevant authority.
In case of violation of any of the terms and conditions, organisers would face legal proceedings and the permission would be cancelled immediately.
However, Despite the PDM being given the nod to stage its grand show, the government was apparently engaged in efforts to curtail the influx of opposition activists workers to Gujranwala.
Since late October 14, vehicles had been parked on roads leading to Gujranwala and on the thoroughfares in Lahore that were likely to be used as roadblocks.
Police were reportedly arresting opposition activists across Punjab. The three main opposition parties, the PML-N, the PPP and the JUI-F, lodged their protest against arrests of their activists.
A list of around 800 PML-N activists from Lahore has been circulating on social media. The list identifies the activists as miscreants, indicating that they might be arrested.
Furthermore, transporters had been strictly instructed not to rent out their vehicles to political parties.
Deputy Commissioner of Gujranwala Sohail Ashraf granted an NoC to the PDM for holding the rally at Jinnah Park. He directed the participants of the public meeting to wear face masks and observe social distancing.
“As per the notification, the organisers are prohibited to allow the entry of members of banned outfits inside the venue and on stage… (and) their speeches are also not allowed. Slogans and speeches against the state institutions are prohibited,” it says.
Punjab police have already booked over 400 workers of the PDM, mostly from the PML-N, in different parts of the province for reportedly violating the Covid-19 SOPs during corner meetings.
Maryam Nawaz said Nawaz Sharif would also address the rally. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has already imposed a ban on Mr Sharif’s speeches for being an absconder.
PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal told a presser on Thursday that Prime Minister Khan had become unnerved over the PDM’s protest drive. “I would like to remind Imran Niazi that he had promised to give the opposition a container for protesting… now he will have to listen — ‘Go Imran, go’ — from 220 million people of the country for making their lives miserable,” he said.