Govt acts wisely

BOTH Federal and Punjab Governments deserve credit for carefully devising strategy to maintain peace and security in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Friday in the face of call for country-wide protests given by PTI leader Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid’s challenge to prevent him from holding a public meeting at Lal Haveli ‘if you can’. Despite media hype, the situation remained under control and to the dismay of those wanting to present doomsday scenario there were no casualties, injuries or any worthwhile damage to public property.
There were several lessons if the parties involved are willing to learn from what happened on Friday. Reacting to the capital police crackdown against his workers who assembled in Islamabad Thursday night in defiance of Section-144, Imran Khan asked his workers to lodge protests in different cities and it was a God-given opportunity to demonstrate power as organising protests after Juma prayers was the easiest method of doing so but nowhere in the country any noticeable gathering was witnessed. Leave alone other parts of the country there were no impressive protests even in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where PTI is in power. This is a clear message to PTI that its campaign has no support among masses and therefore, it should revise its strategy. As for Sheikh Rashid, he has been trying to assume centre stage in anti-Government movement but unfortunately no one turned out to support him on Friday despite frantic calls to his workers to reach Lal Haveli and Committee Chowk. This should be enough to deduce what awaits him in the next general election as people of Rawalpindi are paying no attention to those who view mammoth developmental projects like Metro as ‘Jangla Bus’. Both PTI and PAT leadership asked their workers to attend public meeting of Sheikh Rashid Ahmad but Sheikh was left in the lurch to face the music while PTI leadership stayed inside Bani Gali residence of the party Chairman and no PAT worker came to his rescue. Perhaps, PTI leadership wanted to establish its peaceful credentials ahead of November 2 lockdown against which a verdict has been issued by Islamabad High Court. In 2014, the Government behaved timidly but Friday’s strategy is reassurance that things can be controlled if there is will and determination.

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