October 27th, 2020
By Asim Ahmad Khan
Despite all odds, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) managed to hold an impressive power show in Quetta. The rally was attended by a large number of party workers and the general public. Quetta’s Ayub Stadium, the venue for the event, was packed with supporters of the 11-party alliance.
During the rally, all forms of communication including mobile phone signals, internet, and landline services were shut down by the government under the pretext of providing security to the protestors.
The PDM leaders claimed that several of their convoys were forcibly stopped and delayed by the government at various entry points to Quetta city.
“PDM convoys arriving from Southern Balochistan are being stopped by the government at the Sar e Aab area. If the government does not give up such tactics then I will give a call to my supporters to block Quetta city,” threatened Abdul Ghafoor Haideri while addressing the massive gathering.
Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leaders claimed that despite the government’s authoritarian tactics the PDM was able to hold the biggest rally in the history of Balochistan. He alleged that the provincial and federal governments tried to disrupt the gathering by suspending mobile phone and internet service in the entire city and that the alliance will remain vigilant about such tactics in the future as well.
“I personally met a delegation of the city administration who wanted to hand over a “threat alert” to Mariyum Nawaz at the Sarina hotel Quetta. These threat alerts are a tactic by the administration to try and intimidate the leadership but we will not back down,” says Ameer Afzal Khan, provincial leader of the PML-N.
MOHSIN DAWAR stopped again
Meanwhile, Mohsin Dawar, Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader and member of the National Assembly from North Waziristan was stopped once again by authorities on his way to Quetta for the PDM gathering and despite efforts by senior opposition figures was not allowed entry to the city. The PTM staged a sit-in outside the Quetta airport against the government’s move to restrict Moshin Dawar’s entry to the city. Dawar was later taken to a guest house in Dera Murad Jamali via Sibi.
Ali Ahmed Kakar, a senior lawyer of the Balochistan High Court, asserted that the ban on Mohsin Dawar’s entry into the province was illegal and a violation of his constitutional rights.
“Article 15 of the constitution guarantees the freedom of movement of every citizen of the country. I think preventing Mohsin Dawar from entering Balochistan is in direct contradiction to this clause of the constitution. Everyone has the right to travel freely within the territory of Pakistan and the same applies to Moshin Dawar,” asserted Ali Ahmed Kakar, senior lawyer of the Balochistan Bar Council.
Despite the suspension of the internet service, former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Bilawal Bhutto were able to address the Quetta gathering via video link.
Enforced disappearances and the issue of missing persons became an important point of contention during the PDM gathering.
The government made strict security provisions for the Quetta rally. However, during the meeting, an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in a motorcycle killed four people and injured several others in the Hazar Ganji area of the city.