PTI aims to counter ‘attack on fundamental rights’, ‘economic meltdown’ with Jail Bharo Tehreek


The PTI is all set to begin its Jail Bharo Tehreek (court arrest drive) today (Wednesday) from Lahore which former prime minister Imran Khan says is aimed to counter the “attack” on the party’s fundamental rights and the economic “meltdown”.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, the PTI chief said: “Today we start our Jail Bharo campaign for Haqeeqi Azadi for two main reasons.

“One, it is a peaceful, non-violent protest against the attack on our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights. We are facing sham FIRs and NAB cases, custodial torture, attacks on journalists and social media people.”

Second, Imran went on, the drive was against 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”.

Separately, in a video message shared on PTI’s official Twitter account, the ex-premier urged people to take to the streets for “true freedom”.

“Actually, this campaign will take you to a free and happy Pakistan. And this will only happen when the state protects your fundamental rights,” he said, adding that the Jail Bharo Tehreek “is the name of jihad”.

Imran also said that the more people participated in the drive, the faster Pakistan would achieve “true freedom”.

The drive will begin from Lahore’s Mall Road at 2pm today.

Hundreds aim for jail

Earlier, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the party and its top brass were ready for the court arrest movement. “Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar insisted that they would give themselves for arrest on the first day of the movement.”

According to ARY News, the opening day of the movement would start with a meeting to honour party members. After the meeting, the party supporters would march towards The Mall — where Section 144 is imposed — via Jail Road to give themselves up for arrests. In case, the government refused to detain the PTI activists, the rally will morph into a sit-in at Charing Cross in front of the Punjab Assembly.

After Lahore, Peshawar will witness the launch of the court arrest drive on Feb 23. Rawalpindi will follow on Feb 24, Multan on Feb 25, Gujranwala on Feb 26, Sargodha on Feb 27, and Sahiwal on Feb 28. Faisalabad will join the movement on the first day of March.

Senator Ejaz Chaudhry, who is the focal person of the Jail Bharo Tehreek, has said the party had sought 200 volunteers for the first day of the drive but more than 2,000 have signed up for the drive. He said those party leaders, who would contest the upcoming by-polls on the PTI platform, would not become part of the drive.

Section 144 imposed in Lahore

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has imposed Section 144 on The Mall, Gulberg Main Boulevard as well as outside the Punjab Civil Secretariat and its adjoining roads to prohibit all kinds of assemblies, sit-ins and processions.

Earlier, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the PTI’s arrest drive was aimed at creating political instability and a law and order situation in the country. The PTI is seeking media attention by creating a drama through the ‘court arrest drive’, APP quoted him as saying.

The meeting decided that the miscreants would be arrested and the law and order would be ensured in the country at all costs.

“The arrest of women and poor workers would be avoided,” the participants agreed. The minister said the record of miscreants would be maintained and their activities would be mentioned in their character certificates issued by the police.

If it were up to me, there would be no arrests: Khawaja Saad

On Wednesday, PML-N leader and Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique said that if it were up to him, he would not arrest even a single PTI supporter.

PML-N leader and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique talks to media persons in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV

“I never support political workers going to jail but if someone is pressing on it, then morally the leader should be the first one to surrender,” he told media persons in Lahore.

Saad said that party supremo Nawaz Sharif spent a long time behind bars during the dictatorship of retired General Pervez Musharraf. “And even in this unannounced martial law this time, Nawaz and his family spent time in jail.”

However, he contended that Imran was himself seeking bail but was encouraging his supporters to go to jail.

“This is the prerogative of the provincial government on the treatment [of the protesters], but if it were up to me […] the police wouldn’t be there when people turned up for arrests.

“They would have then just roamed around and gone home eventually,” he added.

The PML-N leader further said that Imran had faced nothing compared to what Nawaz and his family went through.

“We have been behind bars for months … have you ever seen anyone cry? On the other hand, they start crying within days […] they haven’t even faced a tenth of what we went through […] we don’t want them to face what we did, but does he [Imran] even have an ounce of shame in him?”

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