More round-ups as Zardari expected
DASKA: Police in Daska on Friday continued to crack on Pakistan People’s Party local leaders and workers and arrested party leaders Malik Nazar Hussain, the District Bar Association president, Qari Zulfiqar Ali, the deputy secretary general of the Punjab People’s Labour Bureau, and Farooq Shafi Mughal, Sialkot’s party additional secretary general as Asif Ali Zardari is expected to arrive at Lahore Airport today (Saturday).
Police also swooped on houses and offices of party leaders and workers to hunt them in Daska, Bhopalwala, Sambrial and Uggoki and nearby areas amid reports that most of party heavyweights have gone underground to escape arrest.
The district administration and the traffic police have impounded hundreds of public transport vehicles in Sialkot and detained drivers and conductors to stop the possible movement of party leaders and workers intending to drop at the airport. But it is commuters who have been on the receiving end at bus and wagon stops in Sialkot, Daska, Bhopalwala, Sambrial, Uggoki, Pasrur, Badiana, Chawinda and Satrah. The district government has already faced public outcry while motorcycle rickshaws, tractor trolleys and lorries have cashed in on the opportunity to mint money by transporting people, charging each passenger Rs 60 to Rs 100.
Matloob Ahmad Warraich, the president of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (European Affairs), has vehemently condemned the police crackdown, saying Mr Zardari’s welcome reception will go ahead as scheduled and nothing can stop it.
MULTAN: Despite the government’s obstacles, a large number of Pakistan People’s Party workers have left for Lahore to receive Asif Ali Zardari, the party leader, today (Saturday), it has emerged. Reports say party workers sneaked into Lahore despite tight security at the General Bus Stop, railway stations and airports. Police raided the party leaders’ houses but failed to arrest any one.
However, police did catch 21 workers in different areas in Multan, including Malik Salahuddin Dogar, the former mayor, Khalid Hanif Lodhi, the party president in Multan, Malik Asad, the vice president, former minister Malik Mukhtar Ahmed Awan, Salimur Rehman Mayo, the chief organiser of the Asif Zardari Committee, and Mirza Nazir Baig, the provincial chief of the committee. The workers were arrested for 90 days under the Maintenance of Public Order-16.
Khawaja Rizwan Alam, the party information secretary in southern Punjab, said at least 1,000 party workers were rounded up in Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan and Bahawalpur. Shams Awan, the chairperson of the Women’s Action Forum, said the police had allegedly mistreated her brother, Malik Mukhtar Ahmad Awan, a former federal minister, and barged into his house without search or arrest warrant, adding that the police shoved Mr Awan into a car and injured his head.
Reports said the police also allegedly broke into the house of M Salim Raja, the former consultant to the prime minister, without court order and dragged his wife into the street and took her to a police station when they failed to find Mr Raja in the house.
“The PPP will begin a new struggle on April 16 and thousands of workers will go to Lahore to welcome Mr Zardari,” said Makhdoom Shah Mehmood, the party central leader.
SHEIKHUPURA: On Asif Ali Zardari’s arrival at the Lahore Airport today (Saturday), Pakistan People’s Party workers will warmly welcome him and take him to Data Gunj Buksh’s shrine, defying the government.
Altaf Hussain Virk, the party president in Sheikhupura, told DailyTimes on Friday that the government would be responsible if it stopped the party procession. He said his party was the largest political party is Pakistan and had planned a peaceful rally as it had responsible workers. Reports revealed that several leaders had underground fearing arrest because the government had ordered police to prevent people from participating in Mr Zardari’s reception.
Mr Virk said the government had marred the true sprit of democracy and showed double standards, adding that the government held rallies forcing people to attend but “did not allow PPP workers to receive their leader”. Mr Virk said party activists from all over the country would receive Mr Zardari at Lahore Airport and workers would retaliate if police tried to stop them.
BAHAWALPUR: The police crackdown against Pakistan People’s Party activists has continued in Bahawalpur and other parts of the division. According to reports, police raided the leaders’ houses to stop them from going to Lahore.
Muhammad Salim Bhatti, the local party information secretary, said on Friday that the Bahawalpur Railway Station Police had arrested several party workers in Quaid-e-Azam Colony when they were leaving for Lahore.
Reports revealed that a large number of police force had been placed at the railway station and bus stops, adding that the police on Friday ripped off pro-Asif Zardari posters and banners.