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PTI, PPP workers clash near Bilawal House

30 December, 2013

KARACHI: PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi seen with the supporters during a protest against the PTIís sit in protest in front of Bilawal House.
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KARACHI: The protest of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) against the 'illegally constructed' wall around Bilawal House turned violent on Sunday when its workers clashed with Pakistan People's Party (PPP) activists at the Boat Basin Chowrangi nearby.

Police had earlier blocked all roads leading to Bilawal House in Clifton in anticipation of a law and order situation.When the protestors tried to push in the human barriers made up of policemen, pelting stones and chanting slogans, they were randomly beaten and several of them were arrested. The whole area presented the scene of a battleground as police used teargas shells to disperse the angry protesters.

The demonstration was part of a campaign initiated by the PTI MNA from the area Dr Arif Alvi, who claimed that the wall was constructed on public property and needed to be removed. The Sindh High Court (SHC) had also ordered its removal in September terming it illegal. The PTI leadership claimed that the PPP was using state machinery to stifle a genuine demand of the people living in the area.Senior PTI leader Samar Ali Khan alleged the PPP used the law enforcers to thwart the peaceful protest of the PTI.

"The wall is constructed on what was an open road. How can a political party encroach such a huge chunk of land with immunity," he asked. Dr Arif Alvi, who led the demonstration, was also injured when a policeman hit him with a baton on the head. The PTI leader was immediately taken away in a car and the protesters dispersed on a sour note.

The police, however, claimed that the protesters attacked them first, which forced them to take action against the troublemakers."They injured six policemen after which we took action against them," said Nadeem Ahmed, SP Clifton. "We asked them to protest peacefully here (at Boat Basin) but they did not listen."

The PPP Karachi leadership, on the other hand, was also geared up for a showdown after the PTI's protest call at the Bilawal House on Saturday night. The PPP had called on hundreds of it's supporters to come to Bilawal House "to protect the house of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto".

Speaking to the media, Karachi division president Abdul Qadir Patel condemned the PTI's protest as a "political stunt and a conspiracy to spread violence before the local bodies elections".

The PTI's accusation that the PPP was using the law enforcers was not without substance, as the activists of the PPP were allowed to go towards Bilawal House, whereas the general public, including the PTI supporters, were restrained from doing so.

Later, the PTI leadership issued a statement saying that the campaign for the removal for the 'illegal wall' will continue until it is bulldozed and the road is opened to the public.Agencies add: The PTI chief Imran Khan condemned police baton-charge on the party workers.

In a message on the social media website twitter, Imran Khan said: "Shocked to c (see) PTI's peaceful protest in Khi (Karachi), against the non-implementation of a court order 4 (for) removal of illegal Bilawal House wall, attacked.""Shameful how the feudal mindset of dynastic-controlled political parties allows their leaders to usurp public property for its personal needs," he said.

He added, "When PTI peacefully protests to challenge illegal behaviour and non-compliance of court orders, it is physically attacked. Is this democracy?"On the other hand, the PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari defended his party workers and instead accused the PTI activists of resorting to violence.

The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi general secretary Abdul Wahab strongly condemned the torture and baton charge by police on the workers of the PTI. In a statement, Abdul Wahab said had the PPP provincial government implemented the court order, the situation would have been prevented.

Earlier, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said the road leading to Bilawal House was closed due to security apprehensions.He said the announcement by the PTI about the protest outside Bilawal House was unethical. Memon said a wrong political culture was being introduced by the PTI.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Sunday everyone had the right to hold peaceful protests and that he did not support violence.

In a statement, he said PTI supporters should not have allowed its workers to bring weapons to the protest in Karachi.

"Imran Khan has made a habit of distracting the country every time, we are about to have a national conversation on TTP. When Hakeemullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack he made it about NATO trucks. When I talked about TTP on December 27th instead of revisiting his appeasement policy, Imran tried to distract people by talking about Bilawal House wall."

Bilawal said his generation is tired of "ostrich and red herring politics".

"We demand senior politicians talk about the real threat to our country's future. The terrorists are killing innocent civilians, our leaders and our army."

The PPP leader said if PTI changes it's stance on TTP, PPP and PTI can work together.

"In free and fair elections the only possible legitimate national mandate is a coalition government. However, PTI's appeasement and excuses for the TTP who assassinated my mother and kill my brothers is the only thing standing in our way," he said.

End.

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