MULTAN: At least 25 Pakistan Democratic Movement leaders, including Ali Qasim Gilani of the Pakistan Peoples Party, were arrested on Sunday after clashes broke out again between the Punjab Police and the workers of the opposition alliance ahead of its rally in Multan.
Ali Qasim Gilani:
A day earlier, the PDM staff and the city administration clashed when alliance representatives attempted to reach the Qasim Bagh Stadium in the southern city of Punjab, the location for the PDM meeting scheduled for November 30.
In the wee hours of Sunday, the PDM staff again reached the site with a crane to remove the containers placed by the district administration at the various entrances of the stadium.
Soon afterwards, coalition activists met with a strong contingent of police officers headed by Multan CPO Hassan Raza. The CPO has summoned the police line’s contingency staff to handle the workers.
The police baton-charged the operatives and rounded up at least 25 PDM staff, including Gilani of the PPP.
The remaining demonstrators were said to have left the stadium empty after the arrests. The district administration and police reinstalled the blockades withdrawn from the site, allowing use of the situation.
Speaking to Express, Multan CPO Raza said that a First Information Report (FIR) against the PDM employees had been reported. “An iron hand will be dealt with by those who violate the law,” he said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairman of the PPP, condemned the detention of party workers and said the government in Multan was afraid of celebrating the PPP’s founding day.
“Anyway, and in any case, we will hold a meeting on November 30,” he said. “There will be protests in all corners of the country if there is any inconvenience to the workers.”
Activists were seen leaping over barricades put outside the stadium during yesterday’s clashes and cracking the lock on the entrance. Despite the authorities’ attempts to deter them from doing so, they shouted slogans after getting inside the location.
In its ruling on 19 November, the Islamabad High Court barred all outdoor meetings of more than 300 people.