The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is not backing off. In a meeting of its core committee on Wednesday, the party decided to hold weekly protests in all major cities of the country. The committee also decided unanimously that party chairman Imran Khan should go to Karachi and address party workers there on Sept 21.
“After having sustained our sit-in in Islamabad for more than a month, the party leadership believes now the time has come to spread this movement all over the country,” a participant of the meeting told Dawn. The committee met at the party chief’s Bani Gala residence. The party has a strong presence in Karachi, where workers have been regularly organising rallies since the beginning of the Azadi march on Aug 14. This is why the city was selected as Mr Khan’s first stop. Earlier, Mr Khan had announced that he would go to Karachi to thank party workers only after securing the prime minister’s resignation.
The decision to expand the movement is in response to the government’s stubbornness. If the prime minister believes he can beat us with the support of two houses of parliament, he is either misreading the situation or his advisers are misleading him,” a senior PTI leader said, explaining the rationale behind taking the sit-ins countrywide. He went on to say: “The prime minister and his clique must not forget that we have taken the plunge by resigning from the National as well as the Punjab and Sindh assemblies. If the government isn’t willing to listen to us and address our genuine concerns regarding rigging in general elections, we will remain on the roads and continue exposing the ruling party.” The party’s deputy general secretary, Imran Ismail, has been tasked with making arrangements for the Karachi rally.
Since the government seems unmoved by the party’s demands, the core committee has decided to take every possible measure to make its ongoing protest movement more effective. This involves mobilisation of its grassroots organisations at the district and tehsil levels. “We have come a long way and cannot think of leaving the ground at this point in time,” another PTI office-bearer who was at the meeting told Dawn. On talks with the government, the committee was told that so far, the government hadn’t committed to anything significant. Party leaders decided then that they should dispel the impression that the government had accepted five of the PTI’s six demands. -dawn