ISLAMABAD: The first phase of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Jail Bharo Tehreek (court arrest drive) kicked off today (Wednesday) from Lahore as Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Umar Sarfraz and Azam Swati along with other party workers surrendered to police voluntarily.
The PTI senior leaders and party workers entered the prison vans while many party supporters sit on the roof of the prison vans.
The PTI workers started to assemble at Charing Cross in Lahore where they started the movement.
Imran Khan appeals people to fill jails
PTI Chairman Imran Khan, in a special video message on Twitter, appealed Pakistani nation to fill up jails and shatter the idols of fear for achieving “real independence”.
This movement, the former prime minister, will take you to an independent and prosper Pakistan. “This will happen only when a state will safeguard your fundamental rights,” he added.
The Jail Bharo Tahreek is a name of a Jehad, he said, adding “The more you people join it the sooner we will achieve our objective.”
In a couple of separate tweets, Imran Khan said “Today we start our Jail Bharo campaign for Haqeeqi Azadi for two main reasons: One, it is a peaceful, non-violent protest against the attack on our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights.”
He further said “We are facing sham FIRs & NAB cases, custodial torture, attacks on journalists & social media people.”
The PTI chief said, “Two, it is against the economic meltdown brought on by cabal of crooks who have money laundered billions in looted wealth and gotten NROs for themselves while crushing the people, especially the poor and the middle class, under the burden of spiraling inflation and rising unemployment.”
In a statement, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said four other PTI leaders would surrender themselves along with him and if the police didn’t arrest them they will make another attempt from Multan.
In Lahore, Dr Yasmeen Rashid, Ijaz Chaudhry and Fawad Chaudhry will also be present on the occasion.
Taking to its Twitter handle, the PTI urged its workers to show courage and fill up jails.
In his Twitter message, Umar Cheema said that all PTI workers would first assemble at party’s central office on Jail Road at 11am today.
The PTI workers have made full preparations to go to jail on the directions of their chairman.
A large number of people have assembled at Zaman Park.
The woman workers, too, are ready to court arrests.
The PTI activists are hopeful that when the ‘sea of people’ will surrender to authorities, the jails will become full and there would be no space to take in more people.
A festive mood was surrounding the Zaman Park as party workers kept on grooving on the party songs all night.
After Lahore, Peshawar will witness the launch of the court arrest drive on Feb 23. Rawalpindi will follow on Feb 24, Multan on Feb 25, Gujranwala on Feb 26, Sargodha on Feb 27, and Sahiwal on Feb 28. Faisalabad will join the movement on the first day of March.
Senator Ejaz Chaudhry, who is the focal person of the Jail Bharo Tehreek, appeared confident about the success of the movement.
Sanaullah warns activists
On the other hand, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Tuesday that the PTI ‘Court Arrest Drive’ was a drama. He vowed to deal with the violators of peace with an iron hand. He said anyone who violated law, would be arrested. He said by kicking off this drive, the PTI wanted to bring instability in the country and it also wanted to grab media’s attention.
The minister warned the PTI workers that authorities would keep the record of all the ‘enemies of peace’ and it would be mentioned very clearly in their police certificates.
A day earlier, the Punjab government imposed Section 144 on The Mall, Gulberg Main Boulevard as well as outside the Punjab Civil Secretariat and its adjoining roads to prohibit all kinds of assemblies, sit-ins and processions.