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PAT workers more organised than that of PTI

ISLAMABAD: The marchers of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), sitting side-by-side in the capital have almost identical demands, but seem different in terms of discipline and enthusiasm.While, Imran Khan’s-led PTI protesters were first to arrive in the city, they appeared a scattered crowd in the absence of the central command to keep them assembled. A quite contrary scenario is seen in the PAT camp, where discipline is its hallmark with the top command in full control. On Saturday, a large number of female devotees of the PAT were seen weeping during Qadri’s emotional speech when he recalled suffering of his workers at Model Town when the government banned the supply of food, medicines, and essential items as they gathered to celebrate the Martyrs Day on the 10th. While on other side, the supporters of the PTI kept on dancing occasionally on the party songs in small numbers all day as they waited for their leaders to assemble till the evening.Both parties also boast a large contingent of women among the participants in their respective sit-ins but such trend have not been seen among the mainstream political parties, whose women usually travel and protest separately from the men. In the case of both PTI and PAT, however, women of all ages have constantly been at the forefront. Several women while talking to the media personnel said that they had come to the demonstration on their own, without any other male family member. Even though thousands of supporters thronged the capital over the course of past few days, no major disturbances have been reported till date in any part of the city, as presence of the PAT or the PTI workers has interfered too much with the daily lives of the rest of the city. According to the party office-bearers of both the parties, no one has been plucking flowers, leaves, or branches from the trees in the densely vegetated greenbelts around Sector G6, Kashmir Highway, and also on the 7th Avenue where a large number of protestor have parked their vehicles. Similarly, workers of both the parties have been quite well behaved with the shopkeepers in the Aabpara Market, where majority of the local shops were shutdown.The PAT workers have established a tent village on the Suharwardy Road, leading to Aabpara Market while the PTI workers have erected tents to cover the supporters from the rays of sunshine. Despite long queues at the food stalls and their own strength in numbers, the PTI and the PAT workers have so far conducted themselves admirably. There have been no reports of any vandalism, shoplifting or harassment, despite the overwhelming number of people that spent the night in the narrow passages and the alleys of the Aabpara Market. Most pf the people do not even argue when being overcharged by the shopkeepers. While prices of a cup of tea or a plate of rice have doubled in the vicinity, there has been no grumbling among the patient crowds. Unlike most other political parties, both the protesting groups seem to be quite fond of using music at their public meetings. While the PTI opts for a more liberal approach and has its signature DJ, who intersperses political speeches with brief interludes of songs, the beat of the drums, and the rousing rhythms of patriotic anthems set the tone at the PAT sit-in.Whether they are shouting slogans or clapping their hands to the beat of the music, supporters of both the parties are quite adept at keeping time with the “soundtrack of revolution”. Despite very little ideological overlap, both parties have demonstrated peculiar similarities when it comes to the politics of sit-ins and demonstrations. The most striking aspect of these two marches is the resilience demonstrated by the party workers and activists, who have spent nearly three days, camped out on the roads of the capital, braving rain and shine, and the occasional scuffle with the law enforcers. The PTI, supporters say, is a “liberal” party, striving for change in the political culture of the country, while in the words of the PAT workers, they are a group rooted in religious rather than the political lot. But not everything is similar between the two crowds, and the contrast becomes clear as you move from one rally to the other. The PTI workers are far more disorganised than their PAT counterparts. Qadri’s cadres are, in fact, quite well equipped to deal with any situation. A few workers of the PAT said that they had been trained to deal with the situations such as tear-gas shelling or baton charge. One of the most noticeable differences was also the PAT workers’ willingness to queue, either for food or to avail toilet facilities. The PTI workers, as is the norm in the country, were far more rowdy and un-organised. In comparison, in terms of discipline and organisation, the PTI lot comes nowhere near the PAT lot.

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Aaj Kal