Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Wednesday officially announced the beginning of the party’s Jail Bharo Tehreek – a drive to court arrests in an effort to register its protest against the “attack” on fundamental rights and the economic “meltdown” brought on by the incumbent government.
Taking to Twitter, the former premier elaborated upon two reasons behind the protest movement: “One, it is a peaceful, non-violent protest against the attack on our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights […] Two, it is against the economic meltdown brought on by cabal of crooks who have money laundered billions in looted wealth and gotten NROs for themselves while crushing the people, especially the poor and middle class, under the burden of spiralling inflation and rising unemployment.”
Today we start our Jail Bharo campaign for Haqeeqi Azadi for 2 main reasons. One, it is a peaceful, non violent protest against the attack on our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights.We are facing sham FIRs & NAB cases, custodial torture, attacks on journalists & social
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 22, 2023
media ppl. Two, it is against the economic meltdown brought on by cabal of crooks who have money laundered billions in looted wealth & gotten NROs for themselves while crushing the ppl, esp the poor & middle class, under the burden of spiralling inflation & rising unemployment.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 22, 2023
He lamented not only the economic woes of the nation but also the “sham FIRs and NAB cases, custodial torture, attacks on journalists and social media people” that PTI’s supporters and leaders have faced since the party’s ouster from the government.
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Previously, the PTI maintained that the goal of courting arrests by its workers and supporters is to drive the country towards the “establishment of the rule of law” and to push the government to call general elections.
In a video posted on the PTI’s official Twitter account earlier today, the PTI chief urged all citizens to join the party’s movement to build a “free and prosperous Pakistan”.
“That is only possible if the state protects your fundamental rights, therefore, this Jail Bharo movement is a jihad [holy war]” which he deemed synonymous with “freedom”.
“I believe the more of you that would participate, the sooner we will arrive at our objectives, that we will attain true freedom for our country,” he added.
PTI all set
Meanwhile, PTI stalwarts Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar volunteered to court arrest in Lahore to formally begin the drive.
Speaking to the media outside PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s residence in the provincial capital, senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry announced that the “historic movement” would commence from Lahore.
Both senior party leaders and activists will court arrests to the authorities at Faisal Chowk on Mall Road, he said.
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Fawad maintained that during a meeting, the PTI leadership had decided that all senior party leaders and workers would court arrest to support the party’s new drive.
Senior party leaders Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar have volunteered to court arrests on the first day of the movement, he added.
However, the participants of the meeting insisted that the party should stick to the programme that had already been decided.
Meanwhile, party sources indicated that PTI leaders, former Punjab governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema, Waleed Iqbal and former Punjab education minister Dr Murad Raas would also present themselves for arrest on the first day of the movement.
Lahore under Section 144
On the other hand, the caretaker provincial government has already imposed Section 144 for a week in three areas of the provincial capital, including Mall Road.
As per an official notification issued by the additional chief secretary last Monday, the government had outlawed all gatherings, protests and processions from Mian Mir Bridge to Istanbul Chowk on Mall Road, including its immediate vicinity, the Civil Secretariat and its adjoining roads and Main Boulevard Gulberg.
The notification stated that Section 144 prohibited all kinds of assemblies, gatherings, rallies, processions, demonstrations, protests, and other similar activities in these areas.
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It added that rallies and protests posed significant security risks as Mall Road and main boulevard Gulberg Lahore were historically significant and contained business centres as well as highly sensitive historical installations.
“Moreover, Pakistan Super League would shift in Lahore from February 26, where a large number of spectators are likely to visit Qaddafi Stadium, via Main Boulevard Gulberg. Hence, the government imposes Section 144 in Lahore,” the notification said.
On the other hand, the ruling coalition appears to be at odds with each other about what the government’s next move should be.
According to political sources, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP) have advised the government not to arrest the PTI workers.
A faction of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is also against making arrests. However, the party’s central chief organiser is an active supporter of the arrests.
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