ISLAMABAD - It was the firm and unflinching stand of the federal government which has forced Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to stay away from Red Zone and defer its protest plan of October 4 at D-Chowk. But many political observers saw it as a tactical move on part of Imran Khan who has shifted his protest to Lahore.

Sources aware of developments informed The Nation that the Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan was determined not to let anyone hold public rally in the Red Zone. However, during negotiations with PTI leaders, federal capital administration has offered them other venues, including the Parade Ground near Shakarparian. But PTI leadership was adamant to continue with their protest at the D-Chowk till its deferment.

Sources in the ruling PML-N informed that Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali chaired a meeting yesterday to prepare a foolproof plan to block PTI from entering and holding public rally at D-Chowk for which provision of seeking Rangers and reserving force from Punjab also came under discussion.

Sources further informed that the plan to fence off the Red Zone to restrain PTI also figured in the meeting, but the option was kept as last resort as Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and other senior party leaders were of the view that the issue should be resolved through negotiation.

A ruling party cabinet member said that the rally would be under threat as security officials have received a number of security alerts for federal capital and other cities of Punjab. The source further said that the issue of security was also placed before the PTI leadership and they were asked to change the venue of the protest and extend cooperation. It was in this backdrop that the venue of Parade Ground was offered to them as the place could easily be protected.

On the other hand political observers saw the change in venue from Islamabad to Lahore as the smart move on part of the PTI, which on one hand has continuously kept pressure on the ruling PML-N as it was just a deferment and not postponement while on the other hand the rally in Lahore on 9th of this month would definitely be a morale booster for its candidate in NA-122 by-polls scheduled for October 11.

Analysts said that by the time the matter of Muttahida Qaumi Movement resignations from Parliament would be settled either way. And in case Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani accepts resignations of MQM Senators on Oct. 5, the pressure on the federal government would mount many folds. In case PTI manages upset in NA-122 by-polls it would definitely come in a position to force government to move out, what they term ‘controversial’ members of Election Commission of Pakistan.