IHC stops PTI from locking down capital

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Party to challenge decision in SC; Scores of activists arrested; Imran calls for countrywide protests today

Sophia Siddiqui/Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday ordered Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) not to shut down the capital during the party’s November 2 sit-in. During the hearing of petitions seeking to stop PTI sit-in, IHC issued orders that no containers will be allowed in the city and no roads will be blocked. The court further said that no exams in the city will be rescheduled and all schools will remain open on November 2. The court directed the district magistrate to allocate a venue for the sit-in and inform PTI about it. The court also ordered the district administration and CDA to arrange facilities for participants at the sit-in next week. IHC stated during the hearing that Imran Khan’s statements show that the PTI chief wants to freeze the government machinery. The court added that from the looks of it Imran Khan’s November 2 sit-in is not intended to be a mere protest. IHC judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui remarked that it should be known to all that the courts are the ‘on-field umpire as well as the third umpire’ in any situation. The court has summoned Imran Khan on October 31. The petitions state that Imran Khan does not believe in the supremacy of the law and that the protest would affect citizens’ basic rights.
During hearing of the petitions, IHC asked the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (PEMRA) for the records of Imran Khan’s speeches related to Islamabad sit-in on Nov 2. PTI is to protest in Islamabad on November 2 on the issue of Panama leaks. Section 144 imposed in the capital The district administration in the capital has imposed section 144 banning public gatherings and display of weapons. According to a notification more than five people cannot gather at a location. Public rallies and mass gatherings have been banned. Meanwhile at a meeting, Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaaf has decided to challenge the decision of the high court. Talking to the media persons outside his residence, Chairman PTI Imran Khan said that no power could stop him from holding a sit-in on November 2. “My resolve is increasing every day. Our gathering on November 2 will be decisive and historic.” He said the government’s attempt to stop the rally from happening will only result in spreading chaos.
Imran Khan added that he will challenge the High Court decision in the Supreme Court. The PTI chief said that a sea of people will flood the capital. “Look at the resolve of our workers. My tigers have left for Lahore on foot.”
Imran Khan asked which law had he broken that the police had launched a crackdown against him.
The PTI chief alleged that rulers of the country were making money and ignoring the plight of its people. “Twenty five million children in this country don’t go to school. Thirty five percent children in this country are under-nourished. And the rulers are just making money.”
In a jibe at Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Khan said he wanted to give him an Academy Award for his powerful acting. Speaking about Shahbaz Sharif’s talk to journalists on Wednesday where he spoke of the difficulties schoolchildren and sick patients face during rallies and sit-ins, Khan said, “So you began feeling for them after eight years? The Sharif brothers are part of the status quo. They have looted and plundered.”
Imran mocked Shahbaz Sharif’s response to corruption allegations he had made against him. “Shehbaz Sharif should be given a role in Indian movies. Every pharoah meets his end,” he said.
He called the Sharif brothers ‘killers of Model Town’.
Soon after Thursday’s heated hearing in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), District Magistrate of Islamabad Capt (R) Mushtaq Ahmed while complying with the court’s orders to ensure smooth functioning of institutions during PTI’s Nov 2 sit-in, imposed Section 144 in the city citing ‘sufficient ground for proceeding Under Section 144 Cr.Pc 1898’.
Display of weapons and use of loud speakers are banned with immediate effect and the police have reportedly prepared a strategy to track down and arrest of the PTI local leaders and workers. According to sources, the guest houses in the federal capital have been conveyed by the district administration and the police of the local areas not to let PTI or any political party’s workers or leaders stay in their facilities or strict action will be taken against them. Meanwhile, the PTI Secretary General Jahangir Tareen’s residence in Islamabad has already been cordoned off and police sources described he was under house arrest.
Meanwhile, police stormed PTI’s youth convention in Islamabad and arrested scores of party activists.
PTI leader Asad Umar while talking to the media following the arrests said, “State injustice cannot stop us from protesting and the government is afraid of PTI’s democratic protest”. Asad was of the view that there is no democracy in Pakistan. “Government has proved that there is no democracy in Pakistan, rather it is a monarchy,” he said.
PTI vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi alleged the government had arrested hundreds of its workers and police tortured the female workers of the party as well. “Hundreds of PTI workers were arrested and female workers were tortured by the police,” claimed Qureshi. “We are going to meet to IG Islamabad and discuss the situation.” Police transferred the arrested PTI workers through police vans to Police station Kohsaar and Golra, also sealing the hall where the convention was being held. Meanwhile, PTI chairman Imran Khan has announced countrywide protests today (Friday). Asad Umer alleged that the government had threatened the hotel owners, printers and market owners to not cooperate or deal with the PTI workers.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Thursday gave a call for countrywide protests for October 28 after Islamabad police stormed PTI’s youth convention in Islamabad and arrested scores of party activists.
Imran, addressing a press conference following the arrests of his workers, said his workers and the sit-in on Nov 2 was planned to be peaceful.
“We told the government that we would remain peaceful if they had remained peaceful. Now the movement will take a different direction,” said the PTI chairman.

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