After responding to chairman Imran Khan’s call for a long march, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers and supporters are attempting to make their way towards Islamabad, pushing aside containers and braving tear gas shelling.
Imran Khan arrived by helicopter at the Wali Interchange in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. PTI activists converged on the chopper in footage of Imran arriving at the interchange. Later, the PTI chairman left the Wali Interchange in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for Islamabad.
Multiple scuffles broke out between police and PTI marchers as the latter attempted to wriggle past barricades placed in their way, turning Lahore into a battleground. The government has given orders to take “all possible measures” to stop the PTI’s ‘Azadi March.’ Law enforcement is on high alert.
‘No barrier can stop us.’
Imran gave a speech to supporters after arriving in Swabi, holding a Pakistan flag. “No one can stop us from going to D-Chowk,” the PTI chairman said as the crowd cheered.
He called the current government the most corrupt in history, claiming that they were afraid of the people, which is why containers had been placed. As part of the Azadi March, protesters were detained and harassed, according to Imran.
Imran told ruling coalition politicians that the PTI government did not prevent them from staging protests because they “did not fear the people.”
He claimed that the government was afraid because they had been robbing the country for the past 30 years. “I want to send a message from Swabi Interchange to the people: no matter what you do, we’ll get to D-Chowk.” As always, our demonstration will be peaceful.”
Imran insisted that the party had the right to stage a protest, and that he would unite the country and turn it into a nation. He declared, “This nation does not accept this imported government,” and urged people to flee their homes.
“Every Pakistani, including women, children, families, youth, lawyers, and retired army officers, must come out for true independence,” he said.
Imran Khan and the government deny reaching an agreement.
The federal government and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have denied that an agreement on the long march to Islamabad has been reached.
Minister of Information Marriyum Aurangezeb said in a tweet that reports of negotiations and an agreement between the government and the PTI are false. She stated that no agreement has been reached with the “armed group that murdered police officers.”
Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, also denied “rumours” and “deliberate disinformation” that a deal had been reached.
“Certainly not!” We are on our way to Islamabad and there is no chance of a deal. “We will remain in Islamabad until the dissolution of assemblies and elections are announced,” he said. He invited everyone in Islamabad and Rawalpindi to join him.
Arrests made thus far
More than ten PTI workers have been arrested so far in Batti Chowk, and police have confirmed that some marchers have been arrested on the Srinagar Highway. Workers from the PTI have also been detained in D-Chowk.
DIG Operations Lahore Sohail Chaudhry said in a press conference that the police had received information in the last few days that weapons were being brought to Lahore that could be used to disrupt the peace.
According to a senior cop, police chased five cars near the highway before raiding the home of PTI general secretary Zubair Niazi in Lahore. “We discovered weapons at his house.” He adds, “It appears they were planning to use these weapons during the march.”
Meanwhile, police in Numaish Chowrangi have arrested nine PTI workers, including three women.
Conflicts in Lal Haveli
A large crowd of activists has gathered outside Lal Haveli, the home of former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, in Rawalpindi.
Outside, a large number of police officers have been deployed. Hundreds of workers were detained by police. Sheikh Rashid will lead a rally in the city from his home. Imran Khan, the former governor of Sindh, arrived at Lal Haveli on a motorcycle.
Police attempted to apprehend Hammad Azhar in Lahore. Supporters of the party and police attempted to apprehend Azhar, who was wearing a red cap. PTI leader Jamshed Iqbal Cheema was apprehended by police.
Lahore is being shelled.
To put an end to the ‘Azadi March,’ police are on high alert. To disperse PTI workers at Batti Chowk in Lahore, police used tear gas and removed barriers that were blocking the routes.
The PTI Lahore Chapter had requested that its members gather at Batti Chowk, from where they would travel to Islamabad. When party workers removed barriers while police fired tear gas shells to clear the area, the two sides clashed.
Hammad Azhar, the PTI leader, has arrived at Batti Chowk. On his way to Islamabad, he managed to get past the roadblocks and reach GT Road.
Former health minister Yasmeen Rashid’s car was also surrounded by police to prevent her from moving forward. She also attempted to prevent the cops from taking her car keys.
Moment of truth
The march has been invited by PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi to the entire country. “This is a pivotal moment for the entire nation, as we must choose whether to become an independent nation or repeat 75 years of history.”
“The last time the country came together and made a decision was in 1974. “The entire nation must now come out of their houses once more,” he said in a statement.
He claimed that only PTI Chairman Imran Khan was capable of dealing with Pakistan’s problems and that he should be given a new mandate.
He warned that if the government tried to close Islamabad’s roads to those joining the PTI’s long march, the entire country would turn into Islamabad (a venue for protests).
Fear’s chains must be broken.
Despite the government’s decision to call off the long march, PTI Chairman Imran Khan has vowed to continue.
The former prime minister told a press conference in Peshawar on Tuesday that he will lead the “largest procession in Pakistan’s history.”
He slammed the PML-N-led government, claiming that the Sharif family is using military dictator tactics.
“They only remember democracy after they leave power,” he said, when asked how many times these parties have taken to the streets during the PTI administration’s term.
When PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman marched towards Islamabad, the former prime minister asked if the PTI government made any arrests.
“The crime minister and his son were sentenced, but now they are making decisions for the country,” he said, adding that the PTI has never broken a law in its 26-year history.
The PTI chairman stated that it was his party’s democratic right to continue the “Azadi March.” He also threatened authorities with retaliation if they carried out any illegal orders.
The PTI chairman urged his supporters to “break the chains of fear,” claiming that the government would be powerless to stop the mass migration to Islamabad.