Workers and leaders of joint opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Saturday broke into the venue of the alliance’s Multan gathering to be held on November 30, which had reportedly been sealed by the administration.
According to reports, the district administration had placed 30 containers around the venue, Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh, with more being brought in to block roads leading to the city and police deployed outside.
As per the details of Saturday’s incident, a rally led by sons of former prime minister (PM) Yousaf Raza Gillani, namely Ali Haider and Ali Musa, overpowered law enforcement to enter the venue. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers led by local party leaders also accompanied the PPP stalwarts.
The episode saw several scuffles between opposition workers and the police on different routes leading to the stadium where the rally was headed. A final scuffle broke out right outside the venue where hundreds of cops were discharging their duties.
Unconfirmed reports of casualties — both police personnel and political workers — are pouring in.
A senior PPP leader confirmed to The Current that Gillani brothers have taken control of the venue and a welcome camp is also being setup at the stadium. “They refuse to leave until the gathering has been held on Monday.”
To a question, they said the people of Multan are overjoyed to have with them the late former PM Benazir Bhutto’s daughter, Assefa Bhutto-Zardari, who’ll be replacing her coronavirus positive brother and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
Earlier, more than 200 workers of PDM constituent parties were arrested and raids were being conducted to arrest more. The lists of workers, particularly from the PML-N and PPP, were provided to respective police stations.
The arrests had come after the government vowed to not let opposition “put people’s life at risk” by holding a gathering amid the second wave of COVID-19.
As the opposition claims the government is using the virus outbreak to stop the PDM from holding its rallies against “the fascist regime”, PML-N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah has declared that the Multan rally will be held at all costs.
Talking to the media outside the party’s Model Town secretariat in Lahore, he said if the government did not de-seal Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh, the entire city of Multan will become the venue of the public meeting.
He said the first phase of the PDM’s anti-government protests will be completed by holding the last event of the series in the Punjab capital on December 13, and the next phase will begin after the alliance leadership devises a new strategy.
“We stand united against the government,” he said.