PTI wins more allies to fortify Islamabad lockdown



  • Qadri accepts PTI’s invite for Nov 2 protest, say both parties fighting for the same cause
  • Lal Masjid’s Shuhada Foundation extends support to PTI for its planned Islamabad siege
  • Sunni Ittehad Council accepts invite to join PTI’s lockdown plan

With the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) up for a lockdown of the federal capital next month to build pressure on the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation or accountability following the Panamagate, senior leaders of the party have intensified political contacts to form a greater alliance of likeminded parties to lend a hand with its anti-corruption movement.

“Yes, we are planning to contact more likeminded political groups in the next few days,” said a well placed source in the PTI, adding that they might win “unconditional support” of some parties from Sindh and Balochistan.

Meanwhile, in what may be termed as a major breakthrough for the PTI, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) on Monday decided to join its Islamabad siege plan indicating that there is no love lost between Dr Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan.

“IK has called Tahir Ul Qadri on phone and invited him to join the 2nd November protest. Qadri has accepted,” said a tweet by PTI Information Secretary Naeemul Haq.

A source in the PTI however said that the breakthrough was the result of continued efforts of Awami Muslim League (AML) head Shaikh Rashid Ahmed who had acted as a mediator between Dr Qadri and Imran Khan.

Rasheed said Qadri’s joining would lend a new vigour to PTI’s anti-corruption movement.


“Yes, I have categorically accepted Imran Khan’s invite to take part in the sit-in,” Qadri was quoted as having said by a local media outlet. “Workers of both the parties are fighting for the same cause,” he said.

“I have informed Khurram Nawaz Gandapur about my decision, now the party representatives will meet and discuss the future plan of action,” said Qadri.

The PAT chief however said he did not know at present if he would participate personally or not.

“Imran Khan was very angry with Dr Qadri since the latter had left PTI’s dharna halfway in 2014. Khan and Qadri were not on speaking terms since, and despite efforts by common friends, they were not speaking to each other. However, with the PTI’s agitation plan reaching its final stages, Shaikh Rashid took it upon himself to bring the two together again,” said a source in the PTI.

The source added that since it was a matter of ego between both Khan and Qadri, Shaikh Rashid called Dr Qadri and put Imran Khan on the line. Both the cousins spoke their hearts out and finally decided to bury the hatchet and move on,” added the source.

Another PTI leader claimed that common friends had been making efforts for the past few days to reunite both the leaders as both the PTI and PAT had many things in common against the ruling party.

“Since both the PTI and PAT have common agenda, these friends convinced Imran Khan to call Dr Qadri and explain the objectives of the PTI’s demonstrations in Islamabad,” added the PTI leader.

He however added that “possibly, the PTI and PAT would have separate containers and they would hold their demonstration separately so that both the parties could carry their own identity intact”.

About two years ago while the PTI’s anti-government demonstration had reached its peak, PAT chief Dr Qadri had claimed that the PAT and PTI were cousins and both the parties would stand against the government come what may. This bond however did not last longer afterwards as Dr Qadri had decided to go home, leaving Khan and the PTI in the midst.

Earlier in September, Qadri had distanced himself from PTI’s Raiwind march. The PAT had announced to part ways from “Raiwind march as it might lead to a siege of the private residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif”.

At the time, Qadri had supported the stance of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) which had opposed staging a sit-in outside Jati Umra, the residence of the prime minister.


Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi contacted Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) chief Sahibzada Hamid Raza on Monday and invited him to join PTI’s lockdown plan. The SIC chief reportedly accepted the PTI offer.

The council will however make a formal announcement in this respect after a meeting due in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the Shuhada Foundation, which handles all of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Aziz’s interactions with the media, on Monday said it could extend support to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for its planned Islamabad lockdown.

“The government has crossed its limits in its enmity with Islam and the country,” said Hafiz Ehtesham, a spokesperson for the foundation, adding that the foundation’s central executive council would meet in the coming days to make a formal decision about joining the PTI protest on November 2.

Students affiliated with Lal Masjid paralysed the capital for weeks in 2007. Security forces conducted a raid on the mosque and its seminary, Jamia Hafsa, killing over 100 people.

The Shuhada Foundation comprises of the relatives of those who were killed during clashes with the security forces.

“The Nawaz government is hatching conspiracies against the country’s security and threatening national security institutions. Time is ripe to get rid of the Nawaz government,” he added.

The spokesperson further revealed that the foundation was discussing extending “conditional support” to the PTI, claiming that the government was actively taking action against religious parties to appease the US and India.

Ehtesham claimed the government was ‘conspiring’ against mosques and religious seminaries, leaving the Lal Masjid almost no option but to support the anti-government protest. “Thousands of Shuhada Foundation activists will be part of PTI’s protest if we formally announce support,” the spokesperson said.

The Shuhada Foundation statement comes following an announcement by Difa-e-Pakistan Council – an alliance of various religious and political groups such as Jamaatud Dawa and Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat – to meet in Islamabad to discuss their support for PTI’s plan to seal Islamabad.

Difa-e-Pakistan is led by Maulana Samiul Haq, chief of JUI-S and the main ‘madrasah’ Haqqania in Akora Khattak. The PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government allocated Rs300 million for the religious seminary in the 2016-17 annual budget — a move that sparked widespread criticism.


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