ISLAMABAD- Walking on top of his shipping container, waving hands to his adoring supporters, posing victory signs and chanting promises of change, Imran Khan on Sunday was different and demoralised after his supporters disappeared when police pushed them back on Saturday night.
It was the same Constitution Avenue that reverberated with PTI songs and its supporters' dance whenever Imran Khan appeared on the top of the container, but on Sunday the situation was quite different.
Saturday's clashes with police resulted in massive shelling of tear gas forcing PTI supporters to leave the venue except Khan and some other party leaders who had preferred to stay safe in the air-conditioned container.
Police blocked all entry points to Constitution Avenue in an effort to deter the dispersed PTI supporters from gathering again near the container of Imran Khan. The step proved helpful for police.
Supporters of PTI, who usually see Khan from a distance of 100 meters away from his stage, were on Sunday observed making close interaction with their leader and the door of his container was guarded by Sajid Anwar, a three-feet tall activist from Karak.
Imran Khan was desperate to see a reasonable number of supporters to address them; however, except for stick-toting activists of Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) that were roaming here and there; supporters of PTI were nowhere to be seen.
In fact, Sadaqat Abbasi, a PTI office-bearer, came out of the container to check the number of supporters and share the number with Khan who was inside the container.
"How long will we fight for Imran Khan? We are humans and cannot withstand tear gas shelling by police. Our people were unarmed unlike the activists of Qadri. We are really ashamed that our leader would address followers of another party," Hidayatullah, general secretary PTI Kohat chapter told The Nation.
He argued that supporters of PTI were like 'seasonal birds' who would appear in the evening and disappear in the morning as there had been no arrangement for their stay in Islamabad since they converged on the city on August 14.
It was observed that PTI loyalists were receiving food from the organisers of PAT as the PTI organisers were convinced that most of party supporters had left the venue.
All of a sudden Imran appeared on the top of container to address a crowd that was neither waving party flags nor dancing to the songs. It was to speak to a demoralised gathering where most of the activists had wrapped their faces with soaked clothes to minimise the effect of tear gas that had swollen their eyes.
Noticing the absence of his supporters, Khan came down hard on police for not letting his workers to show up at the venue.
"I really feel sorry for my leader. There should be an honourable end of the show. We badly need people here. Thanks God activists of PAT are here; otherwise, we would have lost the battle completely," Zarin Khan, a PTI worker from Mansehra, said.