Sunday, February 26, 2023
Contrary to high expectations of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) leadership, just 70 workers and supporters of the party courted arrest in Gujranwala on Sunday.
The movement, according to the PTI rationale, aims to counter the "attack on constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights" and the "economic meltdown by the incumbent government".
The PTI ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest movement) appeared to be losing its steam as none of the party’s leaders or workers voluntarily surrendered themselves to the police as the Peshawar phase of the 'Jail Bharo Tehreek' (concluded — the city considered as stronghold of the party — on February 23.
PTI leader Yasmin Rashid, however, claimed that six prison vans boarded with PTI workers have departed for jail so far.
She said that the police were facing a shortage of prison vans to shift the PTI workers to the jail. She added that the local police barred female workers of the party from boarding the prison van.
The PTI leader paid rich tribute to the people for taking to the street on the call of former prime minister Imran Khan who announced the 'Jail Bharo' campaign on February 4 and it was kicked off on February 22 from Lahore.
Besides others, Chaudhry Ilyas Gujjar, his nephew and Qamar Abbas Tarrar have courted arrest, said Rashid.
Sharing a photo of former MPA Zafarullah Cheema and Nazar Muhammad Gondal in handcuffs on Twitter, the PTI leaders said that they were the first who voluntarily surrendered to the police in the city.
It is pertinent to mention here that several petitions have been filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking bail for the PTI leaders who voluntarily surrendered themselves to the police but taking to Twitter, senior party leader Fawad Chaudhry wrote: "More than two hundred workers in Lahore and Rawalpindi are currently in various jails and they have refused to submit bail requests."
The party's senior leaders, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Azam Swati, alongside other party workers, voluntarily surrendered themselves to the Lahore police on the first day of the campaign — and later, some of the others followed suit. The movement subsequently reached Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Multan.
A day earlier, PTI Chairman Imran Khan strongly condemned the “fascist approach” of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government for treating his party’s workers and leaders detained during the "Jail Bharo Tehreek" like terrorists.
In his tweet, Khan claimed that his party's leadership and workers are protesting against fascism, the violation of fundamental rights, and the crushing of the nation.
As LHC’s Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhary heard the plea of PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday, he inquired the petitioner's lawyer about why the party members have been arrested.
At this, the lawyer said the party has started a 'Jail Bharo' movement. Justice Chaudhary asked why they are playing with the courts. To this, the lawyer said: "We are not asking for bail, these are symbolic arrests and we are here to protect the rights of the leaders."
The courtroom burst into laughter at the lawyer's reply.
After this, the court remarked that "you were asking yourself to make arrests, now that they are arrested, what's the emergency?"
Zain Qureshi also appeared in court. "I did not get arrested but my father was and I am not allowed to meet him," said Qureshi's son.
At this, Justice Chaudhary replied: "Go to a place where Section 144 is imposed, you will get arrested and will also be able to meet him." His remarks, once again, caused laughter in the room.