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Is PTI’s Minar-e-Pakistan Power Show a Political Milestone or a Security Challenge?

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On Monday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan announced a power show at Minar-i-Pakistan on March 19 after the party’s election rally was postponed twice due to the caretaker Punjab government’s order of imposing Section 144 in the provincial capital. Despite the delay, the rally was eventually allowed to take place on Monday after an undertaking by the organizer was given to take full responsibility in case of any untoward incident. The permission was granted with a warning of high-security risk due to the general and specific threats against political gatherings and previous instances of attacks on political figures. The notification also barred speeches against constitutional offices, including the military and judiciary.

The election rally kicked off from Zaman Park on Monday with Imran leading it in a bulletproof vehicle. Reaching Data Darbar, Imran addressed the rally from inside his vehicle, thanking PTI workers and supporters for their participation and announcing the upcoming power show on Sunday. Imran said he would address the rally and explain how to take the country out of its current issues, calling on the people of Lahore to start preparing for the event.

Imran also paid tribute to PTI worker Ali Bilal, also known as Zille Shah, who lost his life on March 8 as the caretaker Punjab government used force to block a rally called to launch the party’s campaign for the April 30 elections in the province. He sent a message to those responsible for Bilal’s death that he and the nation will never forget or forgive them until justice is served.

The PTI chief alleged that the “big criminals” in power were attempting to run away from the elections and registering cases against him and PTI officeholders to somehow disqualify them from elections. He also addressed the recent public release of the Toshakhana gift records, claiming it exposed those who were actually looting the Toshakhana.

The rally turned back to Imran’s Zaman Park residence, with videos showing people thronging his vehicle and showering it with petals. PTI leader Hammad Azhar claimed that the Sunday power show would “shatter all attendance records” of the party’s past rallies at Minar-i-Pakistan.

Earlier videos showed a large number of supporters and workers on the streets as the rally moved towards its destination, with a number of PTI leaders and their supporters part of the rally. PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry commented on the rally’s strength, saying that stopping Imran Khan is like inviting people’s wrath.

In the meantime, the Election Commission of Pakistan summoned a report from the Punjab government after considering the PTI’s request regarding its Lahore rally and Section 144’s imposition. The commission stated that it was bound to conduct transparent and peaceful elections under the Constitution, thus a comprehensive report should be submitted to the electoral body by Tuesday after considering the PTI’s request.

In conclusion, the PTI’s election rally eventually took place on Monday after being postponed twice due to Section 144’s imposition by the caretaker Punjab government. Imran Khan addressed the rally from inside his bulletproof vehicle, thanking PTI workers and supporters for their participation and announcing the upcoming power show on Sunday. Despite warnings of high-security risks, the rally proceeded peacefully with a large number of supporters and workers on the streets. The Election Commission of Pakistan summoned a report from the Punjab government regarding Section 144’s imposition, considering the PTI’s request for the rally.

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