The PTI is taking out protests across different cities in a show of support and solidarity with the Supreme Court, Constitution and Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial amid the stand-off between the superior judiciary and the government.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan had announced today’s rallies after talks with the government on elections remained inconclusive. Imran issued a renewed appeal today calling on people to venture forth from 5:30pm to 6:30pm to show their solidarity with the Constitution and the chief justice.
Setting out for the rally in Lahore from his Zaman Park residence, Imran called on the people to come out to support the Constitution, Supreme Court and chief justice at 5:30pm for one hour.
“If the Constitution comes to an end and it will if they (the government) don’t follow the Supreme Court order — which the government has already said it won’t follow — then it means the Constitution has come to an end. When that happens, then it means a country’s future has come to an end since the law has ended and the law of the jungle has arrived which means no future for the country or your children,” he said.
The PTI’s Twitter account shared footage of Imran’s vehicle leading the rally in Lahore.
The PTI also shared footage of the Rawalpindi rally showing large numbers of party supporters on the streets.
A day ago, Imran had made an impassioned appeal to the whole nation to come out of their homes on Saturday (today) to give a message to the ruling coalition, “its handlers” and state institutions that no one will tolerate violation of the Constitution and defiance of the Supreme Court’s order regarding holding of elections in Punjab on May 14.
The former prime minister had said Pakistan was at its most sensitive juncture and the whole nation needed to get united to fight against “the mafia” to ensure that people get their fundamental rights.
He announced that the PTI would hold four rallies in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Peshawar on Saturday evening simultaneously to express solidarity with the Constitution, Supreme Court and chief justice of Pakistan.
Stating that he would himself lead the rally in Lahore (from Zaman Park to Lakshmi Chowk), Imran had urged people across the country to come out of their homes at 5:30pm on Saturday and gather at designated places to tell the rulers and their handlers that they would not be allowed to flout the Constitution and usurp citizens’ fundamental rights.
Punjab polls deadlock
A day ago, CJP Bandial said the Supreme Court would not “sit idle” on its order on holding elections in Punjab on May 14 if the talks between the government and the PTI failed.
He passed these remarks as the top court resumed hearing a petition pertaining to one-day elections following three-day negotiations between the federal coalition and the opposition to agree on a specific date for nationwide polls.
After the negotiations came to an end on Tuesday, the PTI submitted a report to the court stating that no resolution was reached and requested that the court enforce its April 4 order regarding elections in Punjab.
In the last hearing on April 27, the three-member Supreme Court bench comprising CJP Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — also made it clear to the negotiating parties that its April 4 order on Punjab Assembly elections had remained unchanged.
Last month, the Supreme Court — while hearing a PTI petition — had directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold general elections to the Punjab Assembly on May 14. However, the government had rejected the apex court’s orders.
After repeated back and forth last week, the Supreme Court on April 20 afforded a temporary respite to the country’s main political parties, giving them time till April 26 to develop a consensus on the date for elections to the provincial and national assemblies, so they could be held simultaneously across the country.
However, on April 26, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reiterated that simultaneous elections will take place in October or November after the current National Assembly completed its term on August 13, whereas parliament will have the final say regarding the initiation of talks with the opposition.
The government wanted to talk to the PTI, he had said, adding that there was an overwhelming opinion that the doors of dialogue should not be closed, but its format was yet to be decided. “The decision [regarding talks] has to be taken by parliament, not you or me,” he added.
Subsequently, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had formed a committee with four members each from both the ruling coalition and the opposition for dialogue.
Dar, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique, Azam Nazeer Tarar and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq along with PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar represented the government in the negotiations. Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Kishwar Zehra and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Tariq Bashir Cheema were also included in the government’s negotiating team.
Meanwhile, the opposition delegation consisted of the party’s Vice Chairman Qureshi, Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry, and Senator Ali Zafar.