PTI stages protests against 'poll rigging' in major cities amid clashes with police

Police baton-charge, arrest PTI protesters in Lahore; PTI spokesperson says party will continue struggle

By  Ahmed Faraz  |  Shabbir Dar  |  Web Desk   |  
March 02, 2024
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Mian Shehzad Farooq.— YouTube screengrab/Geo News Live


The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers and supporters Saturday staged protest demonstrations against "rigging" in the February 8 general elections, across all the major cities amid clashes with the police.

Despite having the biggest number of successful candidates in the polls, the Imran Khan-founded party had given a nationwide protest call against the "stolen" mandate.

The former ruling party's workers and lawyers are protesting in areas including, Shahdara, GPO Chowk at Mall Road, and outside the commissioner's office in Lahore.

During one of the demonstrations, the police baton-charged and arrested PTI workers, including Mian Shehzad Farooq.

Pakistan staged the biggest election of its history earlier this month, which was extraordinary in various aspects. However, the outcome of the polls did not turn out to be as expected by the political actors as none of them got a simple majority.

Subsequently, many parties, the PTI, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, and Jamaat-e-Islami, rejected the general elections.

Over 90 independent candidates supported by the PTI won the elections, who, later joined the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) to claim the seats reserved for female candidates and minorities.

The party had decided to carry out protests amid heavy police deployment outside Lahore High Court (LHC), PTI's office at Jail Road, and GPO Chowk, where the party spokesperson said the main protest was to take place.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations Ali Nasir Rizvi visited GPO Chowk and PTI's office at Jail Road, saying that no one would be allowed to take the law into their own hands.

"We will take action against those who even touch a policeman's uniform.We will not allow anyone to destroy the peace of the city," said DIG Rizvi.

Meanwhile, workers belonging to theInsaf Lawyers Forum have also been protesting outside the LHC. During the protest, the police pushed them inside the court and locked the gate.

On the other hand, PTI's Sher Afzal Marwat, who was leading a rally from Peshawar to Islamabad, decided to change its route towards Rawalpindi.

The rally would enter Islamabad from Purodhai to IJP Road in Rawalpindi. It reached Chungi No 4 after passing throughRaja Bazaar and Fawwara Chowk.

Speaking to the party workers, Marwat called for the release of Imran Khan and other incarcerated PTI leaders.

"We will continue the campaign in courts, assemblies and on the roads till the release of PTI founder," he said.

The PTI spokesperson said that their "peaceful protests" were interrupted by state machinery and law enforcement officials. "The people have taken to the streets to take back their stolen mandate," he added.

He said that "unconstitutional" obstacles in the way of protests show fear and cowardice, adding that they will not accept the "rigged" elections through Form 47.

The spokesperson said that the PTI will continue its struggle to claim its stolen mandate back.

In Islamabad, a PTI rally — headed by Shoaib Shaheen, Ali Bukhari, and Aamir Mughal — was staged outside the National Press Club.

Meanwhile, another rally of the Imran Khan-founded party reached Pirwadhai, after passing through Raja Bazar, Char Number Chungi, and other areas.

The PTI also staged a protest rally in Gujrat. Headed by Qaisara Elahi, wife of former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi, the rally has reached Chowk Kachehri. PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s sister was among the attendees of the rally.

Moreover, the party also demonstrated outside Karachi Press Club, with large number of women participants.

Addressing the protest, PTI leader Aftab Jahangir took a jibe at Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) as he said that the party had "stolen" the rights of Karachi.

"The biggest theft of PTI's mandate was done in Karachi. Farooq Sattar should swear if he has really won," he said.

Jahangir further stated that Karachiites had rejected MQM-P, who has been sent into the assemblies through the "backdoor".

Meanwhile, police charged at a protest staged near the Neela Gumbad Chowk in Lahore, forcing the particiapnts to disperse into the nearby streets.

PTI leader Zubair Niazi also attended this protest.