Heat, harassment concerns keep women away from PTI rally


Volunteers of Imran Tiger Force and 300 women police officers keep things under control

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) showed its public strength on Sunday in Lahore by holding a large public gathering in front of Punjab Assembly at Charing Cross despite security threats and a ban imposed by the Lahore High Court on holding such gatherings on the Mall Road.

For the first time, special security arrangements were made to protect the woman supporters of the PTI with a large number of female police officers as well as the specially trained volunteers of the Imran Tiger Force deployed for the protection of women. There was a strict ban on men entering the women’s enclave during Sunday’s rally.

Unlike in the past, however, the participation of women remained low despite special security arrangements for their protection.

It is pertinent to mention here that there were several incidents of harassment of women during the previous public gathering of the PTI in connection with the Foundation Day celebrations last week. Announcements were made repeatedly during Lahore’s rally yesterday that some elements of the PML-N tried to spoil the previous gathering of the PTI as they entered the rally in the guise of PTI’s workers and misbehaved with the party’s female supporters.

Tayaba, a female worker of PTI told Pakistan Today that she has been participating in PTI’s public meetings for the last five years but has never seen such strict security arrangements for women.

“I was amazed today as I was frisked as many as seven times before entering women’s enclave,” Tayaba said, and added she was satisfied with the security arrangements but was not happy with the low participation of women in the rally. She was of the view that the women did not come in great numbers because of scorching heat this time around.

Asma, a female worker of the PTI who had come from Defence, Lahore told this scribe that the PML-N goons had no morality as they were responsible for the ugly episode of the previous Sunday in Islamabad.

“The low participation of women today is only because of fear among women since last Sunday’s chaos,” she said and added that extremely hot weather may also be a prohibiting factor.

During Sunday’s rally, the situation remained under control even though there were some incidents of commotion at the end of the rally, especially in the women’s enclave.

Imran Tiger Force General Secretary Faisal Iftikhar who hails from Sargodha district told this scribe that he had been called from Sargodha by PTI’s security team to perform his duties in the lady’s enclave.

“There are hundreds of volunteers like me who are taking random pictures of the participants for PTI’s own record. If a messy situation emerges, we can easily identify the miscreant by checking our records as our personnel are also making video of the participants,” said Faisal, who was holding an expensive camera in his hand.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Islampura Circle Mehar Muhammad Mumtaz told this scribe that there are 60 female police officials performing their duties under his supervision.

“The ‘Shahra-e-Fatima Jinnah’ has been specified for women to enter the venue of the rally,” he revealed.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations of Lahore Police Dr Haider Ashraf said that as many as 300 lady police officials have been deployed under the supervision of a superintendent of police to ensure the security of women.

“These special arrangements for women have been made keeping in view the incident of last Sunday in which some women workers were manhandled in Islamabad,” the DIG said.