How big was PTI power show in Islamabad?

35,000 to 45,000 PTI activists and supporters gathered in the parade ground to show their support for PM Imran Khan

Lot of discussion is going around on the PTI power show in Islamabad on Sunday March 27. PTI dubbed it the 'mother of all Jalsas' and biggest in the history of Islamabad. The PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan claims that 1.5 to 2 million people participated in the Islamabad power show addressed by the PM Imran Khan for nearly 1 hour and 50 minutes. There was no big surprise in his long speech as he promised before the rally.
For PTI leaders and supporters it was a successful show which proved that Imran Khan is still the popular leader and enjoys big following among the people. But for opposition, it was a flop show and Imran Khan failed to come up with something new. 
Whatever critics and opponents of PTI say about the number of participants, the fact is that PM Imran Khan delivered the message to his supporters. This whole excercise was aimed to show that he is still popular and to build a new narrative that he has been the target of an international conspiracy to oust him. So he will continue to stress tis point in his public speeches. 
But this power show might not help him to survive the no-confidence motion of the opposition parties. If the purpose of this power show was to impress the establishment and to put the pressure on the PTI dissidents then the objective was not achieved.    
The Indian media quoting the local police official come up with the figure of 20,000 people. The Islamabad police estimated between 60,000 to 70,000 people at Parade Ground. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) came up with the figures of 26,000 people. Independent sources estimated around 35,000 people in the Parade Ground.
 Different Pakistani news outlets estimated that from 30,000 to 40,000 people were present in the PTI power show. Some Senior Pakistani journalists including Kamran Yousaf of Express Tribune gives the figure of 40,000 to 50,000 people. Many independent analysts and journalists estimated around 37,000 people. 
There is no doubt that it was a big show. But it was not the biggest show ever organised in Islamabad. PTI created lot of hype through the mainstream and social media about this power show. The venue of Parade Ground has the total capacity of 25,000 people. According to the different media reports appeared on the news channels before the rally , 8,000 to 10,000 chairs were arranged in the venue. When the Jalsa started in the late afternoon, there were just couple of thousand people at the venue. But later on the crowd swelled to a total capacity. 
The big chunk of crowd came from KP. Nearly 60% people were from KP province. The mobilisation from Punjab was not as big as it was expected. It is pertinent to mention here that PTI governments in AJK, GB, Punjab and KP did played their role in the mobilisation. It was a national rally in which PTI activists and supporters from across the country participated. Through this rally, PM Imran Khan has proved that PTI's core support base is still intact and they are fully behind their leader. Now the question is whether this support base will be enough to win the next general elections. The answer is no. PTI is still enjoying considerable support in KP. But the real problem is in Punjab where party has lost significant support. To win the general elections, PTI need big chunk of independent voters to win most seats in Punjab. All the recent opinion polls clearly pointing to the fact that PTI is trailing behind the PML-N in Punjab with a wider margin.    
The real test for PTI will be to organise such big rally once ousted from the government. The state owned PTV gave full coverage to this power show. The PTI stopped the private news channels to cover the rally. The DSNGs of independent channels were forced to leave the venue. The private channels covered the rally through their drone cameras. Only PTV was allowed to cover the rally. 
                                                                           Khalid Bhatti 

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