PTI Chairman Imran Khan is leading the long march toward Islamabad with the party and the government still at loggerheads. The second day of the march ended peacefully in Ferozewla on Saturday. However, on the third day of the march today (Sunday), he announced that the party will suspend all of its activities for the day after a journalist covering the march fell down a container and lost her life.
This is the PTI chair's second march towards Islamabad after he was ousted via a no-confidence motion earlier this year.
The political instability in Pakistan has also fuelled economic uncertainty, with international rating agencies questioning if the current government can maintain difficult economic policies in the face of political pressure and looming elections.
PM Shahbaz expresses deep grief over journalist’s death
Expressing his deep grief over the tragic death of a female journalist covering the PTI’s long march, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif extended his condolences to the bereaved family.
Taking to Twitter, PM Shahbaz wrote, "Deeply saddened by the death of reporter Sadaf Naeem after falling from a long march container. Cannot feel sad enough over this tragic incident. Heartfelt condolences to the family.”
He maintained that Sadaf Naeem was a dynamic and hardworking reporter. The prime minister prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage and fortitude to the bereaved family members to bear this irreparable loss.
Following the tragic death of a journalist, while covering the PTI’s long march, Imran Khan announced to stop the march for today.
Speaking to the participants, Imran Khan said that the march was supposed to move towards Kamoke, Gujranwala, today. "However, due to the tragic incident, we will stop the march immediately."
Khan also sent his condolences to the family of the deceased and said that he would pray for the departed soul.
PTI leader Ali Nawaz Awan asked the Islamabad administration to provide a no objection certificate (NOC) for a peaceful march and a sit-in in the federal capital.
Awan, in a letter, said that the PTI has responded to the administration seeking some information from the party on October 28. "The required information has been provided to the administration," he added.
He said that delay from the administration would fall under contempt of court.
PPP spokesperson Faisal Karim Kundi called Imran Khan a "foreign-funded leader who is marching with a foreign agenda".
Kundi, while criticising Khan, said that India — the enemy of Pakistan — is marketing the former prime minister's rhetoric.
"Niazi cannot mislead the nation by making statements against Bhutto," said the PPP leader.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that there are close to 3,000 people with the PTI chief in Muridke.
Addressing a press conference in Sialkot, Asif said that the PTI was playing into the hands of India with its march. He added that 98% route of the march lies in Punjab, while only 6-7kms of the route is in federal government’s territory.
Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi confirmed talks were taking place with the PTI but did not share with whom.
In a reply to a question at a ceremony, CM Elahi said that backdoor dialogues take place in every long march.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday castigated Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and dismissed his claim that he had made an offer to hold talks on the new army chief’s appointment.
Khan is leading the long march toward Islamabad for the third day from Muridke.
"Why would I speak to boot polishers?" questioned the former prime minister in his address to the supporters. He added that he spoke to those with whom Shehbaz hid in the trunk of the car to speak.
He also questioned why he would send a message to the premier.
The former prime minister also said that he was not raised in a “military dictator’s nursery”.
“I do not call Ayub Khan daddy like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. I am not like Nawaz Sharif who build General Jilani’s home and pressed General Ziaul Haq’s knees to become a minister,” said the PTI leader.
On the Indian media’s coverage of his attack on military officials, the PTI chief told the neighbouring country’s media that his party is standing with the army.
“I came to power with the people’s power not because of the establishment,” claimed Khan, adding that he only seeks rule of law in the country and the protection of the people’s rights.
Continuing his attack on the coalition government, the PTI chief said that former dictator Pervez Musharraf harmed the country by giving an NRO to these parties.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the party has resumed its third day of the long march, adding that there will be around 1 million to 1.5 million people by the time they reach Islamabad on Friday.
Chaudhry said that the march started from Muridke and the residents of the area have starting joining the convoy.
Former interior minister sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has said that the government’s decision to expand the Red Zone of Islamabad was indicative of it inviting “political conflict”.
“The extension of the red zone to Zero Point is a denial of the Supreme Court's order on long march. Institutions have also said that there is no restriction on a peaceful march,” tweeted the PTI ally. He added that the November 4 they will give a “historic welcome to the long march” from Rawat.
The former minister claimed that the government was running away from elections, adding that those in power should hold polls for the benefit of the country.
Rasheed also claimed that the Federal Investigation Agency was pressurising the Punjab Police to arrest him.
With the march to start in a few minutes, PTI leader Asad Umar asked the government to allow the people to decide.
"Is there any doubt left as to what the people want? Let the people decide," tweeted Umar.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif fired a broadside against PTI chief Imran Khan, saying that he is spewing venom against an institution that “raised him”.
His comments came during a question asked by a YouTuber in Lahore on the DG ISI's presser. Replying to a question, PM Shehbaz said that the former prime minister “severely attacked” the Pakistan army — an institution that works for Pakistan's defence.
The premier said that the institution's officers and troops have made numerous sacrifices be it wars or terrorism, adding that the army fought against terrorism at a time when no place in the country was safe.
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PTI leader Imran Ismail claimed that those spreading rumours of talks between Imran Khan and the government will fail.
“There is no option of talks the people’s demands is early elections,” said Ismail. He also alleged that cases and arrest are being made of PTI workers and leaders.
“We only have one-point agenda that is of Haqiqi Azadi (real freedom),” said Ismail.
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