PAT holds sit-ins to mark Model Town killings anniversaryArchive
LAHORE: As the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) began its sit-in after Iftar on The Mall here on Friday to mark the second anniversary of the Model Town incident in which 14 activists were killed during a police raid on the party’s offices, the Punjab government termed it a ploy to create political instability.
Almost all opposition parties, including the PTI, PML-Q, MQM, Jamaat-i-Islami and Awami Muslim League, assured the PAT of their support for the protest.
PAT activists, including a large number of women, began reaching the venue in the afternoon, while police had blocked The Mall and link roads for traffic since morning.
Police also forced traders to close down their businesses in the area, warning that the administration had reports about the presence of anti-social elements among PAT activists who could plunder their shops.
Those who trade in currency, jewellery, mobile phones and other precious items particularly got frightened, traders’ leader Naeem Mir told Dawn, adding that police vehicles and generators were parked outside some shops, while chairs arranged outside others made continuing their business impossible.
He wondered how PAT activists were accepting dates and sorbet for Iftar from the police whom they had been declaring killers of their colleagues.
Close to the stage, some mock gallows were on display, depicting that the activists desired eye-for-an-eye revenge for their colleagues. Some placards carried by the protesters also called for avenging the killings.
A separate stage was set up for the heirs of the 14 victims.
At the back of the main stage, capacious enough to accommodate around 200 people, the container PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri had used in his two Islamabad sit-ins was parked, giving the impression that contrary to assurances given to the administration the Lahore protest could be longer than a day.
Giving credence to these fears, women participants, some accompanied by toddlers and children, said that they had brought bagfuls of their clothes to stay at the venue for as many days as their leader would say.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah alleged while talking to reporters before the sit-in began that the protest was aimed at creating political instability and halting progress and development.
He said the protest was unjustified because the PAT was pursuing court proceedings in cases it had initiated and it could not claim that its voice was not being heard at any forum.
He said the Model Town incident case was sub judice and the PAT should have waited for the court verdict.
The minister held the PAT responsible for delay in adjudication of the case by not joining the inquiry of a joint investigation team set up two days after the incident.
He said in reply to a question that the government would facilitate the protesters even if they prolonged their protest and would avoid using force to disperse them.
Our Staff Reporter in Karachi adds: Dozens of PAT activists converged on the Numaish traffic intersection in the afternoon and held a sit-in to show solidarity with the Lahore protesters, paralysing traffic in one of the busiest city districts.
Sindh PAT chief Syed Ali Ausat said the party had called for protest demonstrations in all major cities to mark the anniversary.
“We would keep on our protest till receive directives from Lahore,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2016