MQM chief invites PTI to hold rally in Azizabad

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain on Wednesday offered the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to either hold its rally in Azizabad’s Jinnah Ground while maintaining the sanctity of the “martyrs’ memorial” situated there or to hold the rally at some other venue.

A statement issued on the MQM website said that the party supremo was “extremely sad on the tragic incident took place between the residents of NA 246 and the leaders and workers of PTI”.

Hussain opted not to blame anyone for the incident, saying he wanted “a free and fair election to be held in peace”.

Read more: Supporters of MQM, PTI clash in Azizabad

The MQM chief reiterated that “a grand historical monument” is placed at the Jinnah Ground to commemorate “the 20,000 martyrs” and where thousands of people visit to pay their respects and offer prayers for their salvation.

He offered the MQM’s cooperation in providing whatever assistance was needed by the PTI in case its leaders decide to hold their rally at another venue.

The statement also sought time for MQM to make proper arrangements to secure the monument “if PTI insists on holding its rally in Jinnah Ground” and also “requested PTI to ensure its sanctity”.

Also read: PTI wants army deployed at polling stations in NA-246 by-poll

Altaf appealed to both parties to participate in the election like civilised groups and refrain from all kinds of provocations and confrontation.

He also firmly instructed MQM workers and office-bearers to “demonstrate patience and restraint that they exercised a day earlier”. He asked his supporters to refrain from confrontation at all cost.

The MQM chief asked party officials and workers to “understand that they are the host and PTI is coming to contest election in their (MQM’s) traditional constituency as a guest and hence MQM supporters need to control their emotions and manifest exemplary patience and tolerance”.

He requested Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah to hold an emergency meeting of both parties and formulate a code of conduct for the bye-election.

Altaf also asked for the constitution of a committee comprising three empowered members of the Election Commission that would report any violation of the code of conduct to the Election Commissioner and forward copies of those reports to the governor and the chief minister.

Also read: NA accepts Nabeel Gabol’s resignation

Karachi’s NA-246 constituency in Azizabad was left vacant last month after then MQM MNA Nabeel Gabol resigned from his seat.

The MQM has nominated former Hyderabad nazim Kanwar Naveed Jamil as its candidate for NA-246 while PTI has fielded one of its founding members Imran Ismail as its candidate to contest in the election scheduled to be held on April 23.

A PTI delegation led by its candidate came under an attack on Tuesday at the Jinnah Ground which is the planned and likely venue for a PTI rally on April 19.

The MQM later alleged that the banners of party chief Altaf Hussain were torn up there and the “martyrs’ memorial” was desecrated leading to the scuffle between supporters of both parties.

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