Ides of March: PTI MNAs, workers storm Sindh House

 

Ides of March: PTI MNAs, workers storm Sindh House

                                   The threat of ominous violence continues to hang over the capital city as the days for voting on the no-trust motion come near. Just a few days after the police action at the Parliament Lodges, on Friday afternoon irate workers of the PTI, frustrated with members who switched to the other side of the aisle, stormed the Sindh House after crashing the main gate. PMLQ leader Shujaat offered sage counsel to the PTI and PDM-led opposition and asked them to postpone political rallies ahead of the no-confidence motion to cool down the tempers and warned everyone that they will regret if someone got killed.

Television footage showed PTI workers scaling the walls of Sindh House with some of them later breaking down the doors to enter the building. Hordes of PTI workers — including MNA Ataullah Niazi — participated in the demonstration. The workers chanted slogans against the PTI MNAs and in PM Khan’s support. The charged situation became further tense after Federal Minister Fawad held the PPP responsible for turning the Sindh House into another Chhangha Manga. Sheikh Rasheed sounded the alarm, saying the situation may spiral out of control. Earlier, the activists from the ruling party reached the Sindh House in Islamabad’s F-5 Sector and chanted slogans against the dissident MNAs, accusing them of “selling their conscience.” The angry protesters staged a sit-in right outside the main gate to the Sindh House.

Ides of March: PTI MNAs, workers storm Sindh House

The agitators, later, rushed into the house. The activists from PTI’s Youth Wing destroyed the gate of the Sindh House and broke into the building. They were seen rampaging inside the building. They quarrelled with the Islamabad Police personnel who asked them to leave the entrance to the Sindh House. Personnel of the Sindh Police finally evacuated them from the premises. Following the incident, two PTI MNAs — Attaullah Niazi and Faheem Khan — and 12 PTI members were arrested by the Islamabad Police for taking part in the protest. Faheem Khan, one of the two MNAs from Karachi who were leading the activists, said that this was only a “trailer” and the complete “film” would be played later. He said the dissident MNAs had been elected on PTI’s election symbol and they should first step down as MNAs before opposing Imran Khan. Faheem Khan said that in the future, the dissidents would be dragged out of the house.

To add to the prevailing anxiety, the volunteers of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) also reached the Sindh House to confront the charged PTI workers. “Our volunteers will be present where there is lawlessness,” JUI-F spokesperson Aslam Ghauri said, adding that groups of hooligans were being sent into the Red Zone under the supervision of the Islamabad Police. Ghauri said that the hooliganism of PTI will be dealt with in all circumstances. He directed the workers of Rawalpindi and Islamabad to immediately reach Islamabad, adding that any worker was harmed, the government would be responsible.

The PTI leadership took notice of the situation with its Secretary-General Asad Umar directing the workers not to take the law into their hands and immediately vacate the Sindh House. Umar told workers to be patient and tolerant, stop playing with the public’s emotions and respect their mandate in a tweet.

Similar volatility spread in Faisalabad, Peshawar and Lahore near the residences of PTI MNAs suspected of jumping onto the bandwagon. The PTI and Insaf Students Federation (ISF) workers in Faisalabad also protested against MNA Raja Riaz at the Zila Council Chowk. The protesters demanded Riaz resign from the party. As a result, a heavy contingent of police was deployed outside the MNA’s house for his security. The demonstrators held placards and posters depicting the faces of MNAs covered in black ink. A huge crowd blocked the road and chanted slogans against the MNAs. The PTI workers in Narowal also protested against Wajiha Akram. Also in Peshawar, a similar protest took place against MNA Noor Alam Khan.

Earlier, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said, “If Sindh House is turned into a new Changa Manga, [you] will have to face the public’s hatred.” Chaudhry held PPP was “responsible” for the incident, adding that the opposition should move the “turncoats” to another place.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said police negligence was behind the “unfortunate” incident, adding that he has directed the Islamabad inspector general of police to arrest those who were involved. A seemingly alarmed interior minister said the situation is heading towards volatility.

PPP leader Sharjeel Memon termed the storming a “failure” of Islamabad Police and the interior ministry, saying “We consider the attack on Sindh House an attack on the Sindh province.” Memon said, “When they were taking such actions, Islamabad Police were silent. If Sindh Police were not there today, PPP MNAs who were staying inside with their families would be in danger. Imran Khan has been defeated. Now he wants a clash.” He also hinted at retaliatory action against the PTI leadership saying, Bani Gala and Sindh Governor’s House are not out of reach.

He appealed to the Islamabad High Court and the Supreme Court to “immediately” take notice of this “terrorist attack” inside the Red Zone and for a case to be registered against “federal ministers and MNAs who were involved”. PPP’s Shazia Marri, speaking to media persons, said that the incident justified the deployment of Sindh Police personnel at the Sindh House.

PMLQ Chief Ch Shujaat Hussain said previously the governments tried to control the street protests but this is the first time they are also encouraging street protests. He said the government is accusing opposition of using large amounts of money to purchase loyalties of its members. However Shujaat rejected the notion, saying this is the first no-trust motion where no money is being used. He advised both the governmnet and the PDM led opposition to step back from precipice by putting off the political rallies and warned if someone gets killed in any of those both sides will ever regret it. Shujaat further said if once an MP commits to caste a vote then even a million people trying to stop him cannot make him change his decision.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communications Dr Shahbaz Gill said the arrested MNAs were released on his personal surety, following the legal procedures

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