Thursday June 30, 2022

End of Azadi March: Imran Khan gives 6-day ultimatum to announce elections

PTI workers reach near US Embassy in Islamabad after Imran Khan left the venue

By Web Desk
May 26, 2022

PTI Chairman Imran Khan announcing to end the Azadi March in Islamabad on Thursday. -Screengrab
PTI Chairman Imran Khan announcing to end the Azadi March in Islamabad on Thursday. -Screengrab

After giving a six-day ultimatum to the government to announce the election date, PTI Chairman Imran Khan left for his Bani Gala residence, Geo News reported Thursday.

The PTI chairman and the top party leaders left the container soon after the speech while the party workers managed to enter the Red Zone despite heavy security.

Addressing the participants of the ‘Azadi March’ at Jinnah Avenue, the PTI chief warned that he will return to Islamabad along with millions of people if the government fails to announce the date for elections. 

Imran Khan demanded the assemblies be dissolved forthwith and elections announced. 

Imran Khan said he had reached Islamabad after 30 hours of travelling from Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Government has tried every method to crush our Azadi March, they used teargas on peaceful protest, our homes were raided and privacy of the homes were violated, however, I have seen the nation free itself of fear of slavery,” he said.

Imran Khan said three PTI workers lost their lives in Karachi while two workers were thrown off Ravi Bridge and thousands of others were arrested.

The PTI chairman lashed out at the government for “trying to create a divide between the people and the law enforcement agencies”.

Imran Khan said that he had decided that he will stage a sit-in until the government dissolves assemblies and announces elections, but after seeing the “brutal crackdown” on the people in the last 24 hours, he changed his mind.

Addressing the SC judges, he again asked them to take notice of tactics used by the “imported government” to stop the masses from exercising their right to protest.

He said there was a huge responsibility on the apex court judges and thanked them for taking notice of what happened yesterday.

‘Masses have rejected PTI’

Speaking to Geo News after the PTI chairman’s announcement, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Imran Khan has left empty-handed as the masses have rejected them

“The manner in which the police and Rangers performed their duties is commendable,” the minister said.

She said that Imran Khan is against the development of Pakistan.

Army called-in

As Imran Khan’s convoy entered Islamabad and started marching towards D-chowk with the large caravan, the federal government called in the army to protect Red Zone

According to the notification issued by Interior Ministry, the “Army has been called in to control the situation under article 245 of the Constitution.”

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah took to Twitter and confirmed the development. 

PTI workers pelt stones at Jang/Geo office

Meanwhile, PTI workers threw stones using catapults at the Jang/Geo building located near D-Chowk and shattered the glasses of the newsroom.

Due to stone-pelting, several staffers got injured. Also, vans parked near D-chowk were damaged.

Islamabad police warn PTI workers from entering Red Zone

Following the government's decision to summon the army, Islamabad Police issued a warning to the protesters and asked them to refrain from entering the Red Zone.

"Entry into the Red Zone will not be tolerated. All protesters and their leaders are requested to refrain from entering the said area in compliance with the orders of the court," the Islamabad Police tweeted.

'No unnecessary use of force against protesters': IG Islamabad

Later, the Inspector-General of Islamabad Police Dr Akbar Nasir Khan issued a statement and said that the police had been ordered not to use "unnecessary force" against the protesters.

"The police and other law enforcement agencies deployed in Islamabad are not carrying any weapons. But information has been received that some of the protesters are carrying weapons that could lead to the loss of precious lives. Therefore, all protesters are requested to keep the protest peaceful as it was a political process."

Khan is heading to Islamabad's D-chowk with a large caravan to demand the removal of the government and an immediate national election.

He vowed to hold the “biggest march” in the political history of Pakistan if the government does not agree to his demands. According to the latest update, Khan's caravan has entered Punjab after supporters removed barricades from the Attock bridge.

Will not leave D-Chowk until elections are announced: Imran Khan

On the way to the federal capital, Khan and his caravan stopped at Hasan Abdal where he addressed his workers and said that as soon as the police would see him reaching D-Chowk, it too would realise that "we are here for jihad, not politics."

"We will not leave D-Chowk until the government announces a date for the elections in the month of June," Khan said.

Meanwhile, protesters that had already reached D-Chowk continued clashing with the police. As a result, the LEAs fired teargas shells at the demonstrators. Once the shelling stopped, PTI workers once again started assembling at the intersection. Seeing that, the police fired teargas shells to disperse them once again.

PTI protesters enter Blue Area

Meanwhile, PTI protesters in Islamabad had set vehicles and trees on fire in the Blue Area of the federal capital.

According to the police sources, the fire brigade was called immediately to douse the fire; however, the protestors also attacked the fire engine.

The police sources further added that security in the Red Zone area has been increased.

Clashes in Karachi

The PTI workers staged a protest at Karachi's Numaish Chowrangi and set a police van on fire.

During the demonstrations, several policemen including a superintendent of police (SP) were injured as the protesters pelted stones at them. The police started aerial firing after which the number of protesters increased.

Apart from that, riots are also taking place near Khudadad Colony and Noorani Chowrangi. During the protests, Asif Hasan — a foreign news agency photographer — and Geo News cameraman Nasir Ali were also injured.

SC orders govt to provide PTI with a ground for jalsa

The Supreme Court directed the federal government to provide the PTI with the ground between the H-9 and G-9 areas of Islamabad to hold its public gathering.

When the hearing resumed after a break, the attorney-general told the three-member bench that the ground, which will be given to the PTI, only had the capacity to accommodate 10,000 people.

He also added that a Sunday bazaar and the Sirinigar Highway were close to the venue.

Earlier today, following the directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the two sides had also engaged in a two-hour dialogue, but no breakthrough could be reached.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb has denied reports of an agreement between the federal government and the PTI, calling the news "baseless". 

‘No chance of deal with govt’: Imran Khan

After reaching Swabi, PTI Chairman Imran Khan addressed the people heading toward the federal capital. In it, he denied all reports of striking an agreement with the government. “We are heading towards Islamabad and there is no chance of settling an agreement with the coalition government.”

“We will stay in Islamabad until the government decided to dissolve assemblies and announces election dates,” he reiterated, adding that they will reach D-Chowk and no hurdle can stop them.

Speaking to a charged crowd, he called the incumbent government a "group of American slaves". The former prime minister acknowledged that his party workers and leaders were being arrested across the country, while several others were being harassed.

Imran also maintained that staging a protest was the party's right, adding that he would unite the country and make it a nation.

"All Pakistanis, women, children, families, youth, lawyers, retired army officers, everyone has to come out for real independence," he said.

The PTI chairman had earlier announced to lead the march from Wali interchange, where he landed in a helicopter. In a video message recorded before leaving the former prime minister said: “This is a decisive moment for Pakistan.”

Dr Yasmin Rashid and Andaleeb Abbas detained 

Police also detained two female PTI leaders — Dr Yasmin Rashid and Andaleeb Abbas — during a crackdown in Lahore for violating Section 144 imposed in Punjab.   

But shortly after, they were released.

They were arrested after the windscreen of Dr Yasmin Rashid’s car was broken by the police when she was leading a party caravan towards Batti Chowk, Geo News reported.

According to details, the provincial capital became a battleground where the PTI workers and police remain engaged in pitch battles in different areas amid the party's call to reach the spot. The police fired tear gas shells when the party workers remove barriers placed to block the traffic out of the city. 

Dr Rashid was heading to Batti Chowk when she had an argument with policemen deployed to block the party workers from leaving the city.

Police personnel told the PTI leader that she can not go but she did not pay any heed and continued to drive ahead. 

At this, the police resorted to baton charge and broke the vehicle’s windscreen. However, she managed to make her way. 

The PTI’s Lahore chapter had asked its workers to gather at the Batti Chowk today from where they were to depart for Islamabad.

Several party workers were taken into custody during clashes. 

Meanwhile, in social media messages, former federal minister Hammad Azhar and Shafqat Mahmood announced that they have reached Batti Chowk.

According to Geo News, all the entry and exit points of Lahore have been sealed to stop the PTI workers ahead of the march while raids were conducted at the residences of the party leaders during which Senator Ijaz Chauhdry and Mehmoodur Rasheed were arrested.

Lahore Police have also said that arms were recovered from a local PTI leader when a police party raided his residence in the provincial capital.

Arms recovered

Meanwhile, police said that they have recovered heavy ammunition from the residences of PTI leaders Bijash Niazi and Zubair Niazi.

DIG Operations Sohail CHauhdry in a press conference shared that the raids were conducted at Nawan Kot and Multan Road areas from where three persons were arrested, however, Zuair Niazi flee from the scene.

Giving details of the arms recovered, the police officer said that six 223 bore guns, 13 rifles, 96 SMG rifles and 26 magazines of pistols.

Niazi was later arrested during clashes with police when he was going towards Batti Chowk along with former health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid. However, PTI workers managed to free him from police custody.

In a statement, Interior Minister Rana Sanullah said that the presence of ammunition at the residence of PTI Lahore's general secretary is evidence that Imran Niazi is not doing politics, he has resorted to terrorism.

The minister asked the PTI chairman to cancel the bloody march and follow the Constitution and law. He also urged Imran Khan to remain peaceful and not use the resources and machinery of the Pakhtunkhwa government for his interests.

"This is not a peaceful political caravan but an armed invasion. We will not allow those who laid landmines and destroyed the economy. The law will be strictly enforced, whoever takes the law into his own hands will be caught."

‘No reconciliation’

The federal government has categorically refused to hold talks with the PTI to defuse the political tension in the country.

Addressing a news conference, flanked by State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik in Islamabad today, Federal Minister for Power Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan said it is the obvious stance of the government that it will not reconciliate with those who attacked the parliament, kidnap the journalists, disgraced the Masjid-e-Nabwi and passed immoral remarks against the women in the past.

The minister said that they will defend the constitutional and elected government and the rights of the common people.

Khurram Dastgir said, “the Imrani group is once again hell-bent to attack the federal capital and the constitutional government as he did in the past in the year 2014.”

He said the incumbent government, which is a broad-base and national government having representation of all the political parties will protect the fundamental rights of the people of Islamabad and the entire country while implementing the guidelines of the court's verdict in the Faizabad sit-in in February 2019.

Speaking on this occasion, Musadik Malik said there is no shortage of Petrol in the country as we have enough oil reserves.