ISLAMABAD: The twin marches led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Tahirul Qadri are moving through central Punjab with pre-planned stopovers along their way to the federal capital. The numbers of vehicles and their occupants are increasing and surely reach a few hundred thousands, conservatively speaking.
The issue may not be in number of supporters each campaign brings to Islamabad but the way the two may proceed further and show their strength in the federal capital.
According to sources, both the processions may only converge at Zero Point in Islamabad for many reasons. First, the PTI was allowed to leave Lahore sooner than the PAT. Then, it is a show of force by the respective leaders, mainly Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, flanked and aided by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat. None of them likes to join the other to win the popularity battle.
Though Qadri had proposed for a joint procession, Imran’s reservations about Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi left the PTI with only choice. Go solo!
The PTI organisers told Daily Times that the trust deficit within their ranks about Qadri brigade’s peacefulness is still so high. “Even if you look at the PAT participants, each one is armed with at least a club or a lash, while our supporters are just empty-handed,” a Punjab member said.
Zaman Park believes that the Qadri procession is out there to teach police and other law enforcers a lesson for the killing of its workers in Model Town.
The organisers also fear that there is a chance of clash between both party supporters.
Qadri and the Chaudhrys wish to make a point about their political popularity by keeping a separate identity of the rally all the way to Islamabad.
The Punjab PTI and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, who are in contact with the Qadri’s march organisers, believe that Imran-led march would enter Islamabad by early Saturday morning.
“There is no hurry to get there for now. The aim is to take as many people along peacefully as possible,” one explained.
The Qadri-Chaudhry procession may reach a few hours later. So far, there are conflicting reports about setting up a joint stage for both the party followers. While the PAT and the Chaudhrys seem eager for a joint show of strength in Islamabad, PTI stalwarts like Javed Hashmi and Shah Mahmood Qureshi are advising Imran Khan against the prospects.
The organisers will also have to deal with a massive challenge of keeping the crowd disciplined and motivated after an exhaustive journey and tougher odds of sleeping in Islamabad’s humid climate.
The PTI has arranged containers with toilets and water storage while the PAT seems to be brining folding lavatories that can be assembled anywhere.
Administrations of both Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which had blocked the roads until Thursday afternoon, are now making arrangement for parking of vehicles for various caravans of either side some of whom have already started to reach the venue. However, the situation remains volatile and both the processions may agree to merge at Zero Point and eventually sharing the stage. However, the very question of how to spell the political demands and take credit for the results remains anybody’s guess.
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