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ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and former prime minister Imran Khan has tasked the party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and former governor Punjab Omer Sarfraz Cheema, on account of “sudden ailment” of provincial President Shafqat Mahmood, with ensuring maximum public participation from Pakistan’s largest province in the upcoming ‘Haqiqi Azadi March’.

Also, PTI has decided to participate in Punjab Assembly’s by-elections on 20 seats being held on July 17, and local government elections, it has been decided in a party huddle under the chair of chairman PTI in Peshawar.

Reports surfaced on Sunday that Mahmood was suffering from a heart ailment and was shifted to a private hospital in Lahore.

Corresponding to this move, Qureshi has been instructed to work in coordination with Cheema to map out strategy to ensure maximum public participation in the PTI’s long march.

Reports also suggest that the chairman PTI was not satisfied with the performance of party’s Punjab chapter leadership for its failure to ensure the participation of masses in considerable number from Lahore in the May 25 march.

While hundreds of thousands of people mainly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country participated in the long march, removed all the barricades set up by the police to stop them, survived unprecedented teargas shelling and finally reached the federal capital, Mahmood and other senior party leaders from Punjab chapter, who were in Lahore, were conspicuous by their absence.

Reportedly, Mahmood and his team failed to tackle the policemen in Lahore and remained stuck there, failing to make their way to Islamabad.

This did not go down well with Khan, the party chief, who has conveyed his displeasure to Mahmood and other members of his team, it is learnt.

Qureshi and Cheema being brought at the helm to oversee the preparations of the upcoming long march is a move that is being seen in this context by the party insiders.

Senior PTI leader and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted on Sunday that PTI “also made mistakes that brought the situation at this point,” but did not elaborate on the specifics.

“But will Zardari and Sharif run this country for the next four decades and waste those four decades like all these years? Will you like to give up this inheritance and leave? Don’t take public’s anger lightly. People are angry beyond your imagination,” his tweet added.

Flanked by a very large number of his diehard supporters from across the country, former PM Imran Khan was about to make a dramatic entry to Capital’s D-Chowk after reaching Islamabad from KP during the wee hours of Thursday morning.

But to the surprise of many, Khan, without entering D-Chowk, announced at the Jinnah Avenue to end his long march and warned to come back if assemblies were not dissolved and general elections date was not announced in six days. This gave rise to the speculations that Khan was assured by the powers-that-be that his demands would be met — leading him to call off the protest.

However, Khan insists that he took this decision to avoid bloodshed and direct collision with police and paramilitary forces. But he has warned that he will come ‘fully prepared’ this time, if his demands are not met within the given deadline.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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