IFTIKHAR ALAM
LAHORE
While PTI is making all efforts to make the Monday shutdown of Lahore a resounding success, party chief imran Khan said on Saturday that they would go ahead with their December 18 countrywide strike in case the government failed in next 48 hours to finalise the agenda of talks between the two parties.
“Mian Sahib, if you are serious and sincere about resolving the issues then finalise talks’ agenda with the PTI in next 48 hours. I give you (Nawaz Sharif) very clear message today for holding serious talks with the PTI; otherwise, we will shutdown whole of Pakistan on December 18,” he warned the ruling PML-N while addressing the party workers in Lahore.
An informal contact between the two sides was made in Islamabad on Thursday and the formal meeting is scheduled for Tuesday. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman maintained that talks would start from the point they were ended at. He pointed out that if the government was serious about negotiations, dialogue would have started by now.
After successfully shutting down Faisalabad and Karachi, the PTI chairman has called for a shutdown in Lahore on Monday. The party is making all possible efforts to get a resounding response to its first ever business shutdown call for the provincial metropolis, the city of some 20 million people which has always been a stronghold of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Leaders of both parties are making contacts with the traders and businessmen to seek their support for their respective stands. a positive response to the PTI call, observers say, will mean a dent in the ruling party’s fortress.
As of now, compared to the PML-N the PTI has little following in Lahore. Of the total 13 National Assembly seats it could get only one in the last year’s general elections. And of the 25 provincial seats, the PTI has just three.
On Saturday, PTI leaders Ejaz Chaudhry and Yasmin Raashid distributed pamphlets among the people of the metropolis, requesting them to keep their businesses closed on Monday. However, the PML-N also continued its parallel efforts to make the shutdown call a failure.
In case the PTI did not get a positive response, there is little possibility of the government-PTI talks making any breakthrough. The PTI has selected as many as 16 points to stage protests in Lahore. PTI Chairman imran Khan will visit at least 6 of those points.
The selected locations include Shahdara, Bhati Chowk, Shah Alam Circular Road, PMG Chowk, Babu Sabu, The Mall (road), GT Road, Shalamar, Mughalpura, Bhatta Chowk, Liberty Market, Akbar Chowk, Thokar Niaz Baig, Chungi Amar Sadhu, Jorray Pul, Bekhewal Morr, Mozang Chungi and High Court Chowk.
imran Khan warned the PML-N government of increasing the pressure with each passing day. Addressing the party workers, he said: “Imran Khan had never learnt to retreat. We are standing and we will stand till the rigging is exposed and culprits go behind the bars.”
“Our shutdown in Karachi was peaceful, we did not pressurise anyone and people shutdown their businesses voluntarily,” he said, adding, “We want the same to happen in Lahore.” He warned the PML-N of not confronting with the PTI workers on Monday as their protest would be peaceful.
He also warned the PML-N against repeating the Faisalabad tragedy, when PML-N and PTI workers clashed, resulting in the death of a PTI activist. He said that PTI would put Rana Sanaullah in jail. “If you unleash your Gullus on us, PTI workers will respond befittingly and you will be responsible for it,” he held.
imran Khan vowed to strengthen the accountability system after coming into power which he added the PML-N and PPP never wished to do as both parties were doing politics of compromise and advancing their business interests through corruption.
He asked the party leaders and workers to talk to traders and give them his message. Calling the business community and transport owners, imran said that if they wanted revolution in the country, they should shutdown their businesses for one day but if they were happy with the existing system, they should keep their businesses open.
The PTI chairman held that the PTI was changing the prevailing corrupt system through the peaceful protests like the one in Karachi. “We are making a new system and not shutting down cities at gun-point or under pressure.”
The PTI chairman condemned misbehaviour with media persons in Karachi and admitted the mistake of his party but he quickly added that he was not sure whether the attackers were from his party or they were from other parties in guise of PTI workers. “Some people misbehaved with media people and that is not acceptable at any cost,” he declared and urged the PTI Lahore team to take care of the journalists during next planned protests.
imran Khan also attended the NAML University convocation at Royal Palm and spoke on the importance of education. He said he believed the education was the solution to all problems the country was facing now.