- Govt doesn’t grant PTM permission to hold rally but will ‘provide security’
- PTM leader Pashteen calls nationwide protests on Sunday
LAHORE: At least ten organisers of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) rally in Lahore on late Saturday were allegedly picked up by security officials ahead of the rally scheduled to be held at Mochi Gate on Sunday.
According to initial reports, Awami Workers Party (AWP) leaders Ismat Shahjahan and Fanoos Gujjar, PTM leader Ali Wazir, Muzzamil Khan, Alamgir Mehsud and Imran Mandokhel were among the people reportedly detained by the authorities.
In a video making rounds on social media, police officials can be seen arguing with them before they were whisked away. However, the whereabouts of the missing activists remains unknown.
When Pakistan Today contacted Civil Lines SP Operations Safdar Kazmi, whose jurisdiction Davis Road comes in—he categorically denied the police’s involvement in the incident and said police is in no way responsible for the incident.
The development comes in the wake of the police’s directives to the protesters that they would provide security to the rally, but they notification barring the PTM from holding the rally won’t be revoked.
“The rally tomorrow at 4 pm will go as planned. You all are requested to reach the spot as planned. You might have found out that currently, there is an on going series of arrests of the PTM leaders in Lahore. Ali Wazir, Bilal Mandokhel, Muzammil, a senior lady Ismat Shahjehan, Shehbaz and other comrades have been arrested. Then, at the Punjab University, students Alamgir Wazir, Adnan Mehsud, Noorul Hameed and others have been arrested, in addition to several others. This spate of arrests continues, as I speak to you,” said the leader of the movement, Manzoor Pashteen while reacting to the arrests.
“You had arrested Ali Wazir even when the corpses of his father and brothers were lying in his house. They had given up their lives for the homeland, yet you arrested him; he is used to this behaviour. You have shown the path you are on and the path we are on. Spreading terror is your tactic; spreading the word of peace from city to city is ours,” he said.
Pashteen denounced the protests, saying, “It is not just here that you have harassed us. And then, with your propaganda and cunning you have hidden your actions. And have done whatever it took to make yourself seem justified.”
“I request all of you to record your protests in all the cities of Pakistan tomorrow (Sunday) for the sake of the constitution of our country. In particular, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in a peaceful manner; don’t let that go. Don’t say anything to anyone, even if someone harasses you or hits you; that is their nature, that is what he has done all his life.”
“But we will not stay quite. We are tribals. We didn’t even know how to stage rallies. We didn’t know how to ask for rights. We had other methods but we will not resort to those,” he warned.
Earlier in the day, a notification was issued by the government that barred the PTM from holding the rally at Mochi Gate. However, later in the day, the district admin agreed to provide security to the gathering, however, it refused to retract the notification, Pakistan Today had learnt.
“We will gather at Mochi Gate no matter what, and will not allow such meddling to come in the way of our movement,” said Ismat Shahjahan, the organiser of the rally, speaking to Pakistan Today.
Earlier, the district administration of Lahore had rejected the PTM’s plans to hold the public gathering in Lahore late on Friday night. The rally had been announced in a Peshawar meeting of the movement on April 8.
“The civil government had verbally communicated their assent to us multiple times and had said that the No Objection Certificate (NOC) was as good as issued, but now they have come up with security concerns a day before our rally!” Shahjahan went on to say.
“This is a movement which has been speaking the truth from day one. There has not been a single untoward incident in any of our gatherings, then why is the Lahore administration so averse to granting us permission?” she questioned.
Meanwhile, officials from the Deputy Commissioner (DC) office told Pakistan Today that the decision to not grant the NOC to the organisers of the rally was taken after they received word of an increased threat level in the city.
“The NOC was not granted after a detailed intelligence meeting of the administration. We had received word that there was a threat level and it was deemed prudent to not allow any such gathering that may cause disruptions or be a target,” said Amir Shafiq from the DC office.
“They have also not suggested an alternative venue,” he added.
When contacted, the DC office did not comment on the change of heart.
With additional reporting by Zaki Abbas