Imran Khan postpones PTI rally after govt. imposes Section 144 in Lahore

Mr. Khan raised questions about imposing Section 144 on political activity when the election schedule has been announced and called on PTI workers not to fall into the trap

Updated - March 12, 2023 06:25 pm IST

Published - March 12, 2023 06:23 pm IST - Islamabad

File photo of Pakistani Opposition leader and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, Imran Khan. Mr. Khan on March 12, 2023, said Section 144 was “illegally” imposed to curb PTI’s election campaign.

File photo of Pakistani Opposition leader and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, Imran Khan. Mr. Khan on March 12, 2023, said Section 144 was “illegally” imposed to curb PTI’s election campaign. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 12 postponed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) election rally which was scheduled to be held today, The Express Tribune reported.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan's decision comes after Punjab's caretaker government imposed Section 144 in Lahore.

Taking to his official Twitter handle, Imran Khan said that it appears that Section 144 has been imposed "illegally solely" on the PTI election campaign as all other activities are ongoing in Lahore. He said that only Zaman Park has been surrounded by containers and a heavy police contingent.

He raised questions about imposing Section 144 on political activity when the election schedule has been announced and called on PTI workers not to fall into the trap.

Imran Khan tweeted, "It seems again Sec 144 has been imposed illegally solely on PTI election campaign as all other public activities are ongoing in Lahore. Only Zaman Park has been surrounded by containers & heavy police contingent. Clearly, like 8 March, Punjab CM & police want to provoke clashes.In another tweet, he said, "to file more sham FIRs against PTI ldrshp & workers & to use as pretext for postponing elections. Elec Schedule has been announced so how can Sec 144 be imposed on pol activity? I AM TELLING ALL PTI WORKERS NOT TO FALL INTO THIS TRAP. Hence we have postponed rally till tomorrow."

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)'s chief will hold a meeting at the ECP office tomorrow to take up the PTI's plea expressing reservations against the Punjab caretaker government's decision to stop the party from holding a rally, as per The Express Tribune report.

Pakistan's Chief Election Commissioner Sultan Raja will chair the meeting in Lahore at 10:30 am (local time) on PTI leaders Yasmin Rashid and Babar Awan's application.

Earlier in the day, Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan directed PTI lawyer Babar Awan to approach the ECP against the Punjab caretaker government's decision to impose a ban on public gatherings today. The PTI has stressed that the ban is "illegal" and the interim government is violating para 15 of the Supreme Court's orders by imposing Section 144 in Lahore.

ALSO READ | One killed as police use water cannon, tear gas on Imran Khan’s supporters in Lahore

According to PTI, campaigning is a constitutional right of the party. The party has said that the venue and time of its rally do not clash with any prescheduled event, including the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) match, as per the news report.

Speaking at a press conference, Punjab's caretaker Minister for Information Amir Mir had urged the PTI chairman not to "take the law into his hands", The Express Tribune reported. He had said Section 144 was being imposed in Lahore, adding that no one will be permitted to hold a rally or public gathering.

Amir Mir said that Imran Khan had "all of a sudden" announced his rally despite the events such as HBL PSL match, marathon and a cycle race were also scheduled to be held in the city on Sunday.

He had cited the security of the cricket teams as one of the main reasons for the imposition of Section 144.

On Saturday, Imran Khan announced that he will be leading Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) election rally in Lahore on Sunday at 2 pm (local time), Geo News reported. "I will lead the election rally to show them that we are not domesticated animals," Imran Khan told his PTI workers during his address via video link.

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