Sher Afzal Marwat, 20 others booked after PTI’s Swabi convention

Sher Afzal Marwat

PESHAWAR: A case has been registered against 21 local leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), including former provincial minister Sher Afzal Marwat, for organising a workers’ convention in Swabi, defying Section 144 that prohibits gatherings of more than five people.

The FIR was registered under the supervision of the Swabi police station Station house officer (SHO) after officials and workers of the PTI went ahead with the convention yesterday, flouting the restriction imposed by the district administration.

Along with Marwat, other prominent PTI figures named in the case include former MPAs Aqibullah and Abdul Karim, Tehsil Mayor Attaullah Faisal Tarkai, District President Sohail Yousafzai, and Adnan Qaiser. Several unidentified workers have also been booked.

The violation of Section 144, typically invoked to maintain law and order or prevent the spread of infectious diseases, carries a penalty of imprisonment for up to two years or a fine, or both.

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The PTI’s decision to hold the convention despite the ban drew criticism from various quarters. The district administration had blocked roads leading to the venue and warned against defying the restriction, citing potential security concerns and the ongoing public health emergency.

However, the PTI leadership maintained that the convention was a peaceful gathering aimed at mobilising party workers and highlighting pressing issues faced by the people of Swabi. They accused the administration of adopting a discriminatory approach and stifling dissent.

The registration of the case has escalated tensions between the PTI and the local authorities. It remains to be seen how the party will respond to the legal action and whether further clashes or protests will erupt in Swabi.

This development adds another layer to the already volatile political climate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI has been actively campaigning against the ruling coalition government. The party’s defiance of Section 144 and the subsequent crackdown by the administration could potentially trigger further polarization and raise questions about freedom of assembly and political expression in the province. – INP

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