LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party Lahore, civil society and local residents staged a protest at Jain Mandir against the PML-N government for demolishing houses and damaging the heritage of Lahore during work on Orange Line Metro Train (OMT).
Interestingly, PTI-backed opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rashid and his few companions showed up in the PPP protest, but they were booed by the PPP workers, who accused Rashid of being a friendly opposition leader. The protest was led by PPP Lahore President Samina Khalid Ghurki and PPP Lahore Information Secretary Faisal Mir. Hundreds of women and children carrying anti-PML-N placards chanted slogans against the Orange Line project.
While addressing the mob, Ghurki said the government is not only demolishing houses and businesses in violation of the laws but also damaging the historical sites of Lahore. She said that in 2006 the interest rate on the original loan for an underground train was 0.3%, and the Nawaz Sharif government took a new loan at a hefty interest rate of 3% to get billions in kickbacks. Ghurki said Orange Line will cause a loss of Rs 16 billion every year to the national exchequer in the form of subsidies. She said the Punjab government should stop acting like Israeli government which demolishes the houses of Palestinians on two hour notices.
Speaking on the occasion, Faisal Mir said PPP is the only political party standing between the Orange Line project and its victims. He said PPP has been standing with the helpless people of Lahore on this issue from day one and has held a number of protests in Lahore under the instructions of Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Now, he said, all the other political parties are trying to do “noora kushti” on Orange Line. He criticised PTI chief Imran Khan, saying he had remained silent on this issue. Mir also asked Mehmoodur Rashid, who arrived in the middle of the protest, saying that orange line was approved while he was the opposition leader.
He asked why PTI remained silent on the issue until the last week. When booing intensified, Mehmoodur Rashid left the venue. After departure Faisal Mir continued and said PPP does not need any help from the PTI in the fight against the government to save Lahore. He announced that if Orange Line route is not taken underground within 10 days by the Punjab government, PPP will stage a sit-in in front of Punjab Assembly and also halt the movement of Metro Bus in Lahore. On this occasion, Convener of the Victim of Orange Line Committee Nusrat Bano pronounced that Lahore will go back to PPP in the 2018 elections because of the Orange Line project.
Local leader from Kapoor Thala House Ali Rashid said that the stay order from Lahore High Court regarding 11 heritage sites and the letter of request from United Nations to stop demolishing houses is a result of the joint struggle of PPP, civil society and local residents. After the speeches and sit-in, the protesters took out a procession which passed through the proposed Orange Line route in Kapoor Thala House, Old Anarkali and later ended in peacefully.
Neo Monitoring Desk