Commuters grapple with delays as PAT rally triggers gridlocks

LAHORE: Workers of PAT and its allies stage sit-in at Mall Road Qisas and Accountability Movement against the rulers. INP PHOTO by Hamid Moosa
  • Scheduled for 1:00 pm, rally was somewhat delayed on account of Qadri’s rather tardy address, late arrival of measly 2,000 PAT workers at the venue
  • Motorists bemoan protests on City’s major thoroughfare by every Tom, Dick and Harry as 14 diversion points fail to ensure smooth flow of traffic
  • Qadri says PAT’s qisas, accountability movement to continue till justice is done in Model Town tragedy

The commuters in Lahore and police officials deputed at Mall Road to provide security cover to a protest rally of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) lamented the delay in the rally and telephonic address of PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri.

According to details, the time of the rally given by the PAT was 1:00 pm, but Dr Qadri did not address the participants before 6:15 pm, tormenting the commuters as Mall Road remained blocked from either side for traffic. Some scuffles between PAT workers and commuters were also witnessed at some adjacent roads because of traffic gridlocks.

One of the motorists, Muhammad Imran, who was going with his family, told this scribe that he remained stuck in traffic for two hours before he could find a way out since huge containers had been erected on The Mall and its adjoining arteries. “The major road of the city is closed every time a protest is planned here by every Tom, Dick and Harry,” he said of the Mall Road.

Moreover, the police officials, providing security to the participants of the rally, also spent a hectic day. As many as 1,400 constables and 30 station house officers (SHOs), called from different parts of the city, were deployed to guard the rally under the supervision of three superintendents of police (SPs).

An assistant sub inspector (ASI), who came from Kahna Nau, an outskirt of Lahore, requesting anonymity, told Pakistan Today that he came to the protest venue at 8:00 am but till 4:00 pm there were no signs of the PAT rally being addressed by Dr Qadri as by 2:00 pm PAT workers had just started to assemble near Masjid-e-Shuhada – the venue of the rally.

“We were given the meal in the afternoon by the Police Mess, but we had to make arrangements for tea on our own,” he said.

According to police sources, there was a lukewarm participation in PAT rally this time, as rough estimates put the attendance at around 2,000.

According to Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Tayab Hafeez Cheema, 560 traffic wardens were deputed to ensure smooth flow of traffic under the supervision of nine DSPs and 46 traffic inspectors. Furthermore, 14 diversion points had been set up.

Nevertheless, PAT workers started to gather at the venue of the protest rally after 2:00 pm in the form of small groups, but the telephonic address of Dr Qadri, which lasted only a few minutes, started after 6:00 pm.

In his address, Qadri said that the ‘Qisas and accountability’ movement of his party would continue till justice was done in the Model Town tragedy.

“The Panama Papers have exposed our rulers and a strong accountability is required to bring back money in Pakistan,” he said.

According to Qadri, the participation of all the major opposition parties show that these parties had owned PAT’s Qisas movement and wanted justice for those killed in the Model Town tragedy.

The rally, led by PAT General Secretary Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, was also attended by Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Chaudhry Zaheeruddin of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid.

The participants of the rally who raised anti-government slogans were carrying photographs of those killed in the Model Town incident two years ago.

There will be another protest rally by the PAT on August 16 in Lahore, as per the first series of protest schedule given by the party.