LAHORE: The government has returned to the time-tested method of arresting political activists across the province the day before the Multan rally of the 11-party Pakistan Democratic Movement coalition, despite struggling to persuade the opposition to call off its protest drive in the aftermath of the second wave of Covid-19 (PDM) workers.
Reports obtained here from different districts of Punjab, particularly its southern belt, indicate that the police are raiding and detaining the homes of PML-N and PPP leaders and active workers.
Opposition parties have exchanged media orders issued by several deputy commissioners to bring notable workers of the two main constituents of the PDM behind bars for seven days. In an attempt to thwart Monday’s rally in Multan, police are also positioning containers and erecting other barriers on exit points of major towns around Multan and on roads leading to Multan. The Sutlej River bridge was also closed to traffic with the aid of containers.
Punjab PPP President Qamar Zaman Kaira says that party workers are picked up even from districts as far away from Multan as Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin, while the action in districts falling in the divisions of Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan is more strong.
Vehicles being searched at provincial border
He says party office-bearers are now being put under house arrest as police carrying lists of diehard activists in Tobe Tek Singh, Faisalabad, Jhang, Okara, Pakpattan and Sahiwal are also raiding and encircling their houses.
In separate districts, the PML-N has shared lists of hundreds of employees who have either been arrested or police have put a blockade on their homes. Seated MPs such as Tallal Chaudhry, Ayesha Rajab, Naveed Kashif, Saqib Khurshid, and Chaudhry Yousuf were included, as were former MPs such as Tehmina Daultana, Engr Bilal Khar.
Tallal says police are trying to discourage his attempts to take Maryam Nawaz Sharif to Jaranwala and take her in a procession to Multan.
RAHIM YAR KHAN: In addition to using other intimidation techniques to deter them from attending the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) public meeting in Multan on Monday, local leaders of the key opposition parties—PML-N and PPP—have accused the police of launching raids and arresting their workers (today).
At a press conference here on Sunday, PML-N District President Azhar Khan Leghari and Secretary General Imtiaz Ahmed said the opposition wanted a peaceful rally, but the police raided the party workers ‘ houses and detained them.
They claimed that their nonviolent movement against aggression was pushed by the government. They said they were demonstrating against the government’s price-hike and unemployment levied after “steeling the election,” vowing that after lifting all the blockades, the PML-N staff will enter the PDM meeting place, Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh Stadium Multan on Monday.
Private transport owners were forced to refuse vehicles to carry staff to the PDM event, Mian Imtiaz said, while all printing press owners were harassed and cautioned against preparing opposition banners and stickers. He said raids on former PML-N councillors and union council chairmen were also being undertaken to deter them from attending the Multan meeting.
Similarly, Engineer Javed Akbar Dhaloon, PPP Divisional President, and Deputy Information Secretary Mehmood ul Hassan told reporters that party workers were subjected to torture to prevent them from attending a public meeting.
They requested that the PPP local staff chosen by the police be promptly released and that the “illegal arrests” of political leaders be avoided, calling those acts dictatorial.
In the meantime, police stopped several vehicles on the National Highway at Kot Sabzal (Punjab Sindh border) and blocked it from Sindh for opposition workers, primarily from the PPP, to participate in the party’s founding day event in Multan coinciding with the PDM display organised by the PPP.
As per reports, the inter-provincial highway was blocked by the placement of containers guarded by heavy police contingents for traffic.
All vehicles entering Punjab were thoroughly examined and orders were given by the administration to arrest any political worker on board planning to participate in the PDM Multan exhibition.
TT SINGH: On Sunday, the district police started to crackdown on PPP and PML-N activists to keep them from reaching Multan to engage in Monday’s public PDM conference.
They said police forces, in addition to the headquarters of the two groups, searched the houses of hundreds of opposition employees and municipal officials, arresting a number of political activists.
PPP Pirmahal City President Rana Muhammad Jamil, former Gojra Municipal Committee Vice President and PPP Gojra City President Mian Islam Abid, PPP Toba activists Tahir Anwar and Muhammad Irfan and PML-N Toba activist Dr Mian Muhammad Ihsan are among those detained.
BAHAWALPUR: At least 40 activists from the main opposition groups – PPP, PML-N and JUI-F – were detained by district police in a massive crackdown across the district.
As per reports, on Saturday night, the police swung into action to foil the departure of employees of opposition parties to Multan to engage in the public PDM meeting on Monday.
They said the police raided houses and other locations in the city and the towns of Ahmedpur East, Hasilpur, Yazman and Khairpur Tamewali to detain activists from opposition parties leaving for Multan.
In addition to urban areas, the police also prohibited the movement of opposition parties in the district’s rural areas, they said.
So far, Dawn has reported the detention of at least 40 opposition activists who have been arrested at various district police stations. Among them, 25 were arrested in Bahawalpur, according to police reports, while the remaining 11 were arrested in Ahmedpur East and Uch Sharif.
The sources said more Sunday night arrests were planned.
They said the police teams kept an eye on nearby bus and van stands as well in addition to the railway station to nab the staff of the opposition parties to stop them from accessing Multan. Public transit buses, they said, were also being tested.
Meanwhile the arrests were criticised in a joint statement by former Federal Minister Baleeghur Rehman, who is the PML-N Deputy Secretary General, and Rana Tariq, a former ticket holder. They said the PTI government was using “fascist tactics” to discourage the political workers from moving to Multan and holding a public meeting of the opposition there.
They warned the PML-N and its leadership of “severe reaction” if the workers were subjected to torture and excesses, demanding their immediate release.