Fearing public backlash PTI workers still reluctant to act on Khan’s plan


Residents haunted by bitter memories of 2014 sit-in

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—Although workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are all set to ‘occupy’ Islamabad according to the plan given by the party chairman Imran Khan yet those few belonging to Islamabad and Rawalpindi are still praying for some miracle that could save them from increasing public criticism.
“Occupy Islamabad” is a slogan that has made a large majority of the federal capital nervous and panicky. Perhaps this is because they are haunted by bitter memories of 2014 when life was paralyzed in the federal capital for over four months and it took weeks to restore normal business.
These handful workers of the PTI are facing criticism of the Isloos that their leader seems more interested in agitation than rule of law and parliamentary politics. Imran Khan’s recent decision to stay absent along with his party’s parliamentarians from the Parliament’s joint sitting on Kashmir has also estranged a large number of his voters and they have been questioning if Kashmir had anything to do with Panama Leaks.
“Imran Khan’s slogan to occupy Islamabad can cost us our seats in next local government elections,” said a lady councilor of the PTI from Islamabad’s urban area while talking to Pakistan Observer here Sunday. She was of the view that residents of Islamabad prefer a calm and undisturbed life. In 2014 too, they were highly disappointed with Imran Khan’s politics of sit-in and expressed their disapproval off and on. The lady councilor said this time it is going to result in strong public backlash. If schooling of children, office work of the government officials and business of the traders are disturbed and normal routine life is disrupted, we shall be held accountable for that and our lone National Assembly seat can go back to the PML-N in next general elections.
On the other hand there are still a large number of PTI workers who are quite upbeat about the success of Occupy Islamabad. They have started mobilizing people preparing them mentally that it would be ‘do or die’ this time.
Around houses in the twin cities where women workers from Lahore, Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be lodged ahead of the sit-in to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign over his role in the Panamagate scandal have been identified. “Women workers will be accommodated at these houses during the protest in Islamabad to ensure they do not face any hardship,” said a leader of the PTI.
The party workers have also prepared a strategy to cut off Islamabad from the rest of the country on and beyond Oct 30. They will block the three major arteries linking Islamabad with the rest of the country, while others seizing the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA), Rawalpindi Railway Station and the bus stations in twin cities.
Asad Umar, the party’s only lawmaker from NA-48 of the federal capital, would play major role and lead the councilors and chairpersons of the union councils in the protest rally. He would also be taking care of the matters like all boarding, lodging, uninterrupted food supplies and other arrangements for the party workers coming from other cities and provinces.