LAHORE - Mood at the Pakistan Awami Tehrik Secretariat was euphoric as Dr Qadri arrived towards evening and announced in the pelting rain that he had come back to Pakistan permanently and would hold the perpetrators of the Model Town attack accountable.
The presence of Mr Qadri’s followers around the secretariat added much colour to the event. People from all walks of life and virtually of all ages had come from different places of the country just to catch a close glimpse of their leader. People were seen dancing and waving party’s flags while children were there with their lunch boxes and candies all eager for the party chief.
Mussamat Ashraf Hanif, 48, had come all the way from Depalpur just to hear her leader talk in front of her. Despite being on dialysis, she did not seem worn out. Her spirits were up at the prospect of Mr Qadri’s arrival. However, as time passed on, she left and could not see the leader she had been waiting for all day.
Police security around the PAT secretariat in the morning until his arrival was barely to be seen, while senior party workers including Khurram Nawz Gandapur said that in the absence of security barriers, there was risk of an untoward incident. There was only one posse of policemen deployed far away from the party secretariat owing to the PAT’s own lack of confidence in Punjab police. He said that despite the orders of the Lahore high Court, the barriers were removed and now the PAT secretariat was vulnerable to an attack by the terrorists.
Since all security barriers around the PAT secretariat and the residence of Mr Qadri have been removed, a small kiosk was set up temporarily to frisk the arriving people. It was maintained by party’s own volunteers. Likewise, Dr Qadri after categorically expressing his lack of trust in Punjab government arrived at the secretariat escorted by his own security guards who were armed with automatic weapons.
The Punjab government removed the barriers on the pretext of ending what it called ‘no-go areas and the fact that those living in the vicinity had complained that the barriers were preventing free movement. However Mr Gandapur explained that the neighbours and locals of the area were comfortable with the barriers since they felt secure that it were set up by PAT.