Push comes to shove

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A day after around two dozen disgruntled PTI MNAs were found staying at Sindh House to seek refuge from the government’s wrath, PTI workers resorted to violence as they barged into the lodges to throw the lawmakers out.

The PTI supporters forcibly entered the Sindh House after protesting outside for hours against dissident MNAs who are staying in 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. They also smashed the lotay with their feet.

Lota is a derogatory term in Pakistani politics, used for turncoats.

Television footage showed PTI workers climbing over the walls of Sindh House with some of them later breaking down the doors to enter the building. Islamabad police later cleared the area and said it had taken 13 of the protesters into custody for rioting.

A first information report (FIR) against the protesters was registered at the Secretariat police station on behalf of Qurban Ali Anwar, the station house officer who was posted there. The FIR was registered under Sections 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 186 (obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions), 188 (disobedience to an order duly promulgated by a public servant), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 149 (members of an unlawful assembly being guilty of committing an offence in the prosecution of a common object) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

According to the FIR, around 15 to 20 PTI members were trying to enter the Sindh House, which is located in the Red Zone where all political activities and protests are banned under Section 144 of the PPC. The FIR said police personnel reached the spot and asked the protesters to disperse but they did not listen. The protesters raised slogans and uprooted a gate of the Sindh House in an attempt to enter its premises, the FIR said, adding that 13 of the protesters were subsequently arrested.

Following the incident, two PTI MNAs – Attaullah Niazi and Faheem Khan – and 12 PTI members have been arrested by the Islamabad Police for partaking in the protest.

Meanwhile, the PTI and Insaf Student 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 the MNAs covered in black ink. A huge crowd blocked the road and chanted slogans against the MNAs.

A similar protest also took place in Peshawar against MNA Noor Alam Khan. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari dubbed the storming an “act of terrorism” and equated it to an attack on Sindh.

In a statement, he said the “attack” on the Sindh House was “planned” and that “Imran Khan has shown his spite for Sindh by directing [PTI workers] to carry our the attack”.

“We don’t take law into our hands but we know how to deal with unruly elements,” he added.

Bilawal said the “attack on residences of public representatives and judges” was in violation of chadar and chardiwari.

“Imran Khan has been perturbed after seeing his [impending] defeat [in the no-trust vote],” he added.

Meanwhile, PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari also condemned the incident.

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