Maryam, Bilawal reach Gujranwala’s Jinnah Ground, Fazl inching closer

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The Pakistan Democratic Movement is holding its first rally as part of its countrywide anti-government campaign in Gujranwala today (Friday).

The rally is being held at Jinnah Ground where people started arriving at 3pm. The PML-N is hosting the rally and organisers signed a 28-point agreement with the Gujranwala city administration in order to get permission. PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman are going to attend and address the crowd. PML-N founder Nawaz Sharif is also expected to address the crowd via video link from London.

According to the agreement, all roads leading into the city will be opened and containers will be removed. All people who have been arrested in relation to the rally will also be released. No raids will be conducted either.

However, the PDM is not allowed to block GT Road, which was their plan in case they weren’t granted permission for the rally. The rally will be held from 3pm till midnight.

SOPs
It will be mandatory for participants to observe anti-coronavirus SOPs at the rally. PDM leaders are only allowed to address the crowd in the stadium and no speeches are allowed against national security institutions or against the Constitution.

In case the agreement is not followed, a case will be registered against the rally organisers.

The organisers have constructed an 80 by 24 foot stage and set up 10,000 chairs, though they claim more people will attend. They have also hired DJ Butt, made famous for his participation at PTI rallies, for the event. One of his team members received an electric shock while setting up a screen.

You can see an aerial view of the stage here.

A fight also broke out between workers of the JUI-F and PML-N at the venue.

The PDM, which is comprised of 11 opposition parties, has vowed to stage rallies across the country to begin a movement against the government. Rallies are also scheduled in Karachi and Quetta on October 18.

PDM Gujranwala rally
PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reached the stadium too. He is standing on stage next to Maryam and meeting supporters of the opposition parties.

PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz has reached the Jinnah Ground in Gujranwala. She is waving from stage as thousands of supporters welcome her to the jalsa

At 8:48pm, PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair, who’s travelling with Maryam, told SAMAA TV that their convoy is just 20 minutes away from Gujranwala. PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reached but hasn’t entered Jinnah Stadium.

“The PML-N’s narrative hasn’t changed, but it [targeting Imran Khan] is part of the strategy,” PML-N leader Zubair told SAMAA TV.

“In a cricket match, you have to take 10 wickets, then you completely end an innings. So the wickets will fall. Imran Khan’s wicket will also fall,” he said.

Zubair says former PM Nawaz Sharif will give the last speech at the Gujranwala jalsa.

Veteran politician Makhdoom Javed Hashmi addressed the crowd in Gujranwala around 8pm. “To run Pakistan, you will have to bow down before the country’s constitution,” he said.

“What are we demanding? We are demanding respect for our votes,” he said.

As of 8:45pm, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz had reached Kamonke.

As of 6:30pm, PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz was still in Lahore even three hours after leaving her residence. According to a SAMAA TV reporter, she won’t be able to make it to the venue by 8pm.

PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reached Wazirabad, while JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman is also still in Lahore.

By 6:40pm at Wazirabad, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stopped to address the rally: “The third generation of the PPP has come out on to the streets to fight this selected and hybrid system. We will restore democracy.” He said their fight was against historical poverty, historical inflation and historical unemployment. “We will complete the incomplete mission of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.”

Muhammad Zubair, who is traveling with Maryam Nawaz, told SAMAA TV at about 7:30pm that they left Lahore five hours ago but are still in Lahore. “Don’t worry the people inside Jinnah Stadium are passionate and they will wait for us,” he said.

Maryam Nawaz will not be addressing the PML-N supporters on her way to Gujranwala because of time constraints, he added.

There are no two narratives within the PML-N. The people who leave Nawaz Sharif’s narrative will be left behind. “For the time being, our target is Imran Khan,” said Zubair.

Traffic plan for Lahore

A traffic plan has been issued for Lahore ahead of the rally.

Sharif Medical City Road to Ada Plot will be closed for traffic, as will GT Road, Timber Market and Ravi Road to the Amamia Colony phatak.

Instead of taking GT Road to Gujranwala and Narowal, people are requested to use the Old Ravi Bridge and Lahore to Sheikhpura traffic is requested to take Sagain Bridge.

Ring Road Adda Plot to Niazai Chowk may be closed, depending on the traffic situation.

Over 600 traffic wardens have been deployed for traffic management.

Security arrangements

Over 3,000 police officers have been posted at Jinnah Stadium for security. The security plan has been divided into three sections. The PDM has also hired 500 private security officers.

Police officers have been posted at all the seven of the stadium’s entry and exit points.

Only PDM organisers are being allowed in from the main gate. A PML-N MPA was stopped from entering.

Gujranwala traffic plan

To control the flow of traffic in Gujranwala, 231 traffic wardens and 241 traffic police officers have been posted.

All roads leading to the entry and exit points of Jinnah Ground have been blocked. Residents attending the rally will have to walk to the venue.

Containers have been placed on the roads leading to the Sialkoti Phatak, Gondla Wala Phatak, DC Office and City flyover. Residents complained that they have been getting stuck for hours in traffic because of the containers.

On the other hand, opposition leaders complained that they have been deliberately placed as a hurdle.