LAHORE: Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri has announced to join Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) “Azadi March” on August 14, throwing up a new challenge for the civil and military establishment of the country.
“Azadi March and ‘Inqlab March’ would be held side by side and hand in hand until the end of the government and change of system,” Qadri said while addressing the “Youme Shuhada” gathering outside his Model Town office on Sunday. In a dire warning for his party’s workers the Canadian national cleric said that anyone who returns from the march before the change of the system should be “martyred”. Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and opposition leader of the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rasheed, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Rasheed Godil, Sunni Itehad Council’s (SIC) Hamid Raza and representative of the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) were also present on the occasion.
Qadri also extended the Youme Shuhada at Model Town for three more days, taking commitment from his workers that they would not leave the venue. He asked the people of the country to join his march. The fiery cleric claimed that a plan has been made to kill him and said that “if the Sharif brothers got him killed”, all PAT workers must take revenge from the Sharif family “and their kitchen cabinet”. Earlier, he hurled threats and allegations at the PML-N leaders, calling them proprietors of state terrorism and brutality.
He said Pakistan would see revolution in a few days and asked his workers to move in groups of at least 100 when leaving the gathering. He said that those who attacked his workers must not be spared. “Those who attack you must be attacked.” Qadri asked the security personnel present at the event to disobey the Punjab government and Punjab Police. He claimed that 25,000 PAT workers have been arrested, 3000 seriously injured, hundreds of others are missing, and women have been humiliated. He said Model Town has been made Gaza for the last seven days.
While speaking in Urdu Qadri asked his followers to attack security personnel and take revenge from the rulers, however, speaking in English to the international community he took a softer stance and said, “Despite Punjab government’s brutality PAT workers would remain peaceful till the last movement.” He said they were non-violent “and despite state terrorism and brutality we will remain peaceful”. “We want to eradicate every kind of terrorism. We don’t want terrorism import or export to and from Pakistan.”
He said, “I reject all false allegations against our workers.” The cleric alleged that a constable named Ashraf was killed in a traffic accident but the Punjab government got registered a false case against him over his death. Terming his movement a “jihad” he took commitment from his workers to remain part of it. Qadri asserted that he was a strong opponent of martial law and supporter of democracy.
Clashes had erupted between police and PAT workers on Friday following Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s orders to arrest Qadri for violating the law. The clashes were prompted by the removal of barricades from outside the Minhajul Quran Secretariat. The PAT activists attacked the police, which resorted to baton charge and fired tear-gas shells to disperse them. PAT workers had managed to remove barricades around Tahirul Qadri’s residence in Model Town as well as in front of the Jinnah Hospital and other adjoining roads coming from Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Model Town. At least three policemen were injured during a clash with PAT’s workers in Model Town. The Punjab Police had set up pickets at all the entry points of the city where all vehicles were thoroughly searched before being allowed to enter the city. The police had also placed containers around the Punjab Assembly.
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