Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. — AFP/File

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. — AFP/File 
  • PTI says implementation of Section 144 is illegal. 
  • Says Punjab govt violating  Para 15 of SC’s order. 
  • Routes of rally, PSL are different, says petition. 

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday challenged the Section 144 imposed by the Punjab government in Lahore in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ahead of its election rally in the provincial capital. 

PTI leader Babar Awan filed the plea in the ECP on the instructions of party Chairman Imran Khan. 

The Punjab government Saturday night again announced imposing Section 144 (banning of large gatherings) in Lahore to avoid any “untoward incidents”.

This is the second time in less than a week that the interim government has imposed the restriction ahead of the election rally of the party — which has severely criticised the caretaker set-up for being “partial”.

Punjab caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir had said that Section 144 was imposed as the former prime minister has once again announced holding a rally on an “important day”.

“Today (Sunday), Lahore will host a Pakistan Super League (PSL) match. There will also be a 40-kilometre-long marathon and cycle race in the city,” the information minister said.

Mir added that the administration informed the party about the events beforehand, and it was also apprised in writing to hold the rally another day, but it chose otherwise.

“In light of the situation, the Punjab government has decided to ban rallies today. Section 144 is being imposed to avoid any untoward incident,” the information minister.

“The ECP should dispose of the implementation of Section 144 as it is illegal,” said the petition. 

It said that by imposing Section 144, the Punjab government is violating Para 15 of the Supreme Court’s order. The petition also stated that the routes of the rally and the Pakistan Super League (PSL) match are different. 

“The PTI’s rally will conclude at 5:30pm while the PSL will begin at 7pm,” it said, adding that Section 144 has never been imposed in any city amid PSL matches.

The election campaign is PTI’s constitutional right and the provincial government is stopping the campaign illegally. 

On the other hand, PTI leader Yasmin Rashid has also submitted a request against the provincial government’s decision to ban rallies in ECP’s office in Lahore.

Meanwhile, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi instructed the party workers to reach Zaman Park despite the ban. “Imran Khan will lead the rally today as it was decided in the meeting,” he said. 

Qureshi said that the date for the elections has been announced, hence, it is not justified to stop them from staging a rally. 

Khan to lead rally himself

The announcement to impose Section 144 in Lahore came hours after Khan said he would lead the rally himself.

“I will lead the election rally to show them that we are not domesticated animals,” the former prime minister told his party workers during his address via video link.

Speaking to his party workers, Khan said that the “powerful” segments want to get the upcoming general elections in Punjab and KP cancelled at all costs.

“They would try to get the polls cancelled by assassinating him or bomb blasts […] I know that they will do something to stop the election,” the PTI chairman added.

The general elections in Punjab are scheduled to be held on April 30, while the date for the polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is yet to be announced as Governor Ghulam Ali has not decided.

During PTI’s rally on Wednesday, clashes broke out between party workers and the Punjab Police, leaving several wounded.

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