• Sunday, April 14, 2024

PAKISTAN

Protests erupt in Pakistan as Imran Khan supporters clash with police

Supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), wave flags as they protest demanding free and fair results of the elections, in Peshawar, Pakistan February 17, 2024. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

By: Pramod Thomas

SUPPORTERS of Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s party have clashed with police in various cities across the country as they staged protests against alleged rigging in the general elections held on February 8.

In Lahore, supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) gathered outside the Lahore Press Club and the party’s Jail Road office on Saturday (17) to register their protest, the Dawn newspaper reported on Sunday (18).

The protesters chanted slogans, demanding the restoration of their “stolen mandate”. They called for rectified results based on the vote count as per Form 45, prepared at polling stations under the watch of political parties’ polling agents.

PTI-backed candidate for NA-128, Salman Akram Raja, was arrested and taken to Racecourse Police Station. He was later released, the report said.

Video clips circulating on social media showed policemen dragging the lawyer as he participated in the protest outside party office on Jail Road.

Ali Ijaz Buttar, another PTI candidate, was also arrested, along with elderly men, women and a child.

In many cities of Punjab, police arrived at the protest site even before the demonstrators had gathered and arrested several party leaders, candidates, workers and supporters. They dragged elderly men and women.

PTI workers and supporters, who had gathered on the call of party founder Imran Khan, chanted slogans and demanded the restoration of their “stolen” mandate, the Dawn report said.

“If police stop protesters, stay peaceful and stage a sit-in there,” he wrote in a post on X.

In Karachi, hundreds of PTI workers and supporters gathered outside the Election Commission of Pakistan’s Sindh office in the city’s Saddar area.

The protesters chanted slogans against the alleged rigging and demanded the judiciary and state institutions to intervene and fix the “flaws” in the results. The charged crowd, including women and children, carried party flags and danced to the tunes of party songs.

They claimed that the mandate of Karachi was “stolen” on Feb 8 and that it could lead to “disastrous repercussions”, like damaging the democracy and affecting the parliamentary system.

The party’s Sindh chapter president, Haleem Adil Sheikh, and other senior leaders addressed the demonstration and vowed to keep raising their voices against the “rigged” elections”.

In Peshawar and other areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, PTI workers, including the newly elected lawmakers, staged rallies.
The rally in the provincial capital was addressed by PTI provincial president and chief minister-designate Ali Amin Gandapur and other leaders.
In his speech, Gandapur said his party would not seek revenge but would reform institutions responsible for the “political witch-hunt” of his party workers and leaders.
“Reforms are necessary for the bright future of our children,” Gandapur said, without specifying which institutions he aims to reform.
Holding a portrait of the PTI founder Imran Khan, he said the party’s next government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would ensure rights for women and vowed to revive the Sehat Card health insurance programme.

Meanwhile, talks between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party on a power-sharing formula for a coalition government remained inconclusive, though both sides claimed “significant progress” in the discussions, according to a media report on Sunday.

The third meeting between the Contact and Coordination Committees (CCCs) of the two parties, which took place on Saturday (17), remained inconclusive and both decided to meet again on Monday (19) to finalise the power-sharing formula.

A brief announcement issued by the PML-N after the meeting said that there had been “significant progress” in talks with both sides, stressing the need for a “strong democratic government”.

“The proposals put forth by both parties were thoroughly discussed, and while substantial progress was achieved, further deliberations are required to finalise the matters at hand,” a joint statement read.

(PTI)

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