LAHORE: Since the PTI-led government took power in August 2018, a number of employees, civil society activists and parliamentarians have organised a protest rally on Sunday against major price hikes, increasing unemployment and other problems faced by citizens.
The demonstrators, including a number of women, gathered under the banner of the Haqooq-i-Khalq campaign at the GPO intersection Lahore. They shouted slogans against the government for its inability to address the situation while holding placards and banners engraved with various demands.
After the owner retrenched a number of employees due to declining financial situation, I lost my job at a factory (Gajjumata, Lahore). “Ms Iram, one of the demonstrators, said at the GPO intersection,” My uncle, too, has no work these days.
“It seems like until this administration stays, we won’t be able to find new jobs,” she lamented.
The demonstrators, including those retrenched by a leading industrial community, seemed ready to unleash a protest campaign for their rights that, according to them, were not granted to them in breach of Pakistan ‘s Constitution.
A leading industry association on the pretext of coronavirus pulled 3,800 employees from diverse jobs in one go. In Faisalabad, we launched demonstrations. Yet we were not noticed by anybody. And now, Muhammad Asif told Dawn, we are facing criminal cases reported by the police against us on the applications of factory owners.
When speaking to this reporter, Tahir, Shahzad and others also recounted related ordeals. After having a large number of attendees, the rally went on to hit Charing Cross, where speeches were to be made by speakers from different divisions of society. On the road, they got help from the shopkeepers and motorists.
The increase in rates has really shattered people from all walks of life. This is the first government whose actions have influenced everyone,’ a shopkeeper commented. “We would accept the staging of those protests for our rights.”
The demonstrators demanded urgent remedial action that the government would take to provide the public with relief. They said that the campaign for the granting of rights to them would escalate.
Each institution in Pakistan today has been paralysed. Journalists, the judiciary, politicians, etc., are under pressure and are seeking to regulate them. So, by voicing massively against this, we all need to get rid of the current situation , ” said MNA Mohsin Dawar.
He berated the government of the PTI and said the country was going through the worst human rights crisis. They (the government) are snatching up Baloch and Pashtun student scholarships. “The Lahore police are extorting money from Pushtun dealers,” he claimed.
He criticised the government for abolishing the Medical Council of Pakistan and for putting in a new body, the Medical Commission of Pakistan. The new commission promotes the earning of cash by private medical schools. In addition, they also launched a new test that reveals that the commission does not trust the medical education offered in Pakistan’s public and private sectors. It is very weird,’ he said, and encouraged the participants to unite if this government wishes to get their rights.
During a recent protest in Lahore, he voiced sorrow over the death of a farmer.
As the people of the US succeeded in getting rid of Donald Trump, Farooq Tariq said that the people of Pakistan too will soon be able to send the packing of this country’s junior Trump (Imran Khan). He called for fixing the farmers ‘Rs2,000 per maund wheat support price and the workers’ Rs35,000 minimum wages.
Abid Saqi voiced deep concern about the killing of demonstrators. “They’re trying to kill people. They’re letting people go missing. It is an absolute dictatorship which must come to an end now,’ he said.
As the speeches were ongoing at the price hike protest, another rally also emerged at The Mall near Charing Cross while demonstrating unity with the armed forces. The members, organised by the ‘Hum Awam Pakistan’ group, raised slogans in support of the army.
In an attempt to escape any untoward incident, police stopped them away from the Haqooq-i-Khalq movement rally.
Published in Dharti News, November 9th, 2020