PTI supporters converge on Liberty Chowk as long march kick-off near
Activists and supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are also scheduled to take part in their “Haqeeqi Azadi March” on the nation’s capital to demand new elections.
The march will begin at Liberty Chowk in Lahore.
Meanwhile, political tension is rising in the country as Islamabad has been placed on high alert following the announcement by former prime minister Imran Khan on Tuesday that he will hold the long march demanding that the government schedule new general elections.
Additionally, the government has begun preparations to deploy thousands of security agents to prevent Imran’s supporters from accessing the city.
According to sources, the interior ministry has decided to deploy approximately 30,000 police, rangers, and paramilitary personnel in Islamabad and prohibit demonstrators from entering the red-zone region near the parliament complex.
In the red-zone region are the President’s House, the Prime Minister’s House, ministerial offices, parliament, and other key structures, including foreign embassies.
With forces poised to roll into Islamabad and the government keeping a nervous vigil, the scenario has returned the nation’s capital to a familiar state of affairs seen on the eve of the PTI’s May 25 long march, which was marked by fierce confrontation and repression.
Wednesday’s notice from the interior ministry states that the Islamabad police have finalised preparations for the long march.
The announcement stated that 13,086 officers, including two deputy inspector generals of police, four senior superintendents of police, and eleven superintendents, will be stationed at the location of the lengthy march. Additionally, thirty assistant superintendents and deputy superintendents will be posted.
During the march, 4,265 Frontier Corps officers, 3,600 Rangers members, and 1,022 Sindh police officers would be on duty.
In addition to sending hundreds of containers into Islamabad to barricade all entry points before to the arrival of protestors, the authorities had also deployed thousands of containers into the city.
The officers will receive 616 tear gas weapons, 50,050 ammunition, 611 twelve-bore weapons, and 36,700 rounds. Additionally, the cops will receive 2,430 masks and 374 cars.
Everyone in the police department has been advised to remain unarmed.
In addition, at the directive of the ministry of interior, Pakistan Railways (PR) compiled a roster of 400 railway police officers to prevent the long march.
According to sources, the ministry requested 2,000 personnel from the railway police authority, but owing to a paucity of personnel, only 400 personnel from all eight divisions of the railways could be gathered.
During a hearing at the Supreme Court over the PTI’s May 25 March, the CJP stated that the march was the party’s political strategy and that everyone had the right to protest as long as they did not engage in violence or destroy public property.
The government had the authority to take action against the infringement of the law, he had added.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah stated on Thursday that the PTI could hold its long march in sectors H-9 and G-9 of the federal capital, as authorised by the courts, but that its members were prohibited from crossing the Red Zone, which would be defended by Rangers and Pak Army forces.
The minister stated at a news conference in Islamabad that the administration of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) had received the application regarding the PTI’s lengthy march and was considering it.
Sanaullah had stated that the PTI had requested permission for public meetings and a sit-in at a suitable location on November 4, 2022, and that such activities would be permitted only at court-designated locations.
In the event of turbulence, he continued, the participants of the PTI long march would be stopped at Islamabad’s entry points, as Rangers, Frontier Corps, and Sindh and Islamabad police had given the necessary number of people for the security of the federal capital.
The minister stated unequivocally that participants would not be permitted to enter the Red Zone.
“The majority of structures in the Red Zone are state symbols, and Article 245 has also been invoked. There, Rangers and Pakistani Army soldiers would do their duties, he added. Imran declared the commencement date of the march on Tuesday. Friday at 11 a.m., we will congregate at Liberty Chowk and depart for Islamabad, he had added.
“We will maintain peace. If there is any interruption, it will come from the opposing side, not ours. We aim for a gentle revolution. We are not going to Islamabad to cause trouble,” Imran affirmed, adding that despite his benign intentions, he was prepared to be arrested.
According to the party’s plans, the march would begin in Lahore’s Liberty Chowk on Friday (today) and end on November 3 in Rawat, where the leadership will determine the next course of action. Priority number one for the party would be to conduct a public rally, while priority number two would be to turn the protest into a sit-in.