The 11-party opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), is all set to hold its third power show at Ayub Stadium, Quetta on Sunday (today) amid heightened security measures over credible reports of a possible terror attack.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) warned that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in connivance with HIAs have planned to carry out large-scale terrorist activities in Quetta, targeting political and religious leadership.
The Balochistan government had appealed to the PDM leadership to defer their rally in the wake of the security alert. However, the opposition leaders paid no heed to the warning and started gathering in Quetta on Saturday.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz reached Quetta at around 12:30pm by airplane, while JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also the central president of the PDM, arrived in the city by road in the shape of a caravan through Khuzdar.
PPP Balochistan spokesperson Hayat Achakzai told The Express Tribune that Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari might not be able to make it to the public gathering as he is in Gilgit-Baltistan busy electioneering for the upcoming polls on November 15. However, he said, if Bilawal cannot make it to the venue, he will address the rally through video link.
PML-N Balochistan President Gen (retd) Qadir Baloch said that party supreme leader Nawaz Sharif will address the public gathering through video link. A PML-N social media team has reached Quetta to broadcast the speech.
All preparations, including security measures and provision of sanitisers and face masks, for the third PDM rally have been completed. The PDM has started decorating the ground for the rally.
A control room has been set up at the Deputy Commissioner’s Office to monitor the security arrangements in the wake of a possible terror attack. The Balochistan Home Department has placed a ban on pillion riding for 24 hours in Quetta.
More than 4,000 security personnel have been deployed by the Balochistan government, including police, Frontier Corps and Balochistan Constabulary.
Other leaders who arrived included JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Capt (retd) Safdar, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Nihal Hashmi, PPP Senior Vice Chairman and former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Awami National Party Central Vice President Amir Haider Khan Hoti and General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain.
Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Balochistan National Party chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal and National Party Central President Dr Abdul Malik Baloch have reached Quetta.
Further, the Balochistan government detained Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement leader MNA Mohsin Dawar when he arrived at the Quetta airport due to a three-month ban on him for delivering anti-government speeches, which will end on October 29. Home Minister Ziaullah Langove confirmed the development.
Maryam, while interacting with media persons at a local hotel on Saturday, ruled out any chance of negotiation with the PTI government, saying: “I consider it a sin holding talks with a puppet government, which has no legitimacy.”
She said that the incumbent government would fall through democratic ways.
Addressing JUI-F workers at a local madrassa, Fazl said, “It is the responsibility of the government to provide security for the Quetta gathering. If they cannot provide security, they should go home.”
Fazl called the government “illegitimate”, “fake” and “incompetent”.