Clashes, arrests, blockades as Imran Khan launches long march

Imran Khan starts long march from Peshawar: KP has been cut off from Punjab: Entry and exit points in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi sealed: Attock district disconnected from rest of Punjab, KP: Rangers deployed in Pindi, federal capital: Mobile service down in many Punjab cities: Metro bus service in twin cities suspended: Hundreds of PTI supporters rounded up in intensified swoop: PTI leaders Mehmoodur Rasheed, Ijaz Ch arrested in Lahore: Police to arrest meal providers of PTI marchers

By: News Desk
Published: 10:11 AM, 25 May, 2022
Clashes, arrests, blockades as Imran Khan launches long march
Caption: Imran Khan waves to supporters from a top of a container during the PTI’s long march in Swabi.–AFP
Stay tunned with 24 News HD Android App
Get it on Google Play

The government with all its might and the PTI with all its zeal are entangled in a fierce face-off as the latter is not budging on its ongoing march and the government is not willing to let the ‘anarchy’ sweep across the country, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Wednesday. 

The day has been dawned to witness a widespread crackdown on the PTI workers as authorities have intensified their raids to capture the PTI leaders and supporters on the eve of party’s Long March on Islamabad today. 

Besides an intense swoop and large-scale arrests, the government has also resorted to massive roadblocks and hurdles placed in cities and cutting off roads and motorways’ access from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the federal capital in an apparent bid to literally make Islamabad inaccessible in order to scuttle the PTI march plan. 

A showdown is likely to occur between the undaunting PTI and the apprehensive government.

Though the federal cabinet decided yesterday that the PTI would not be allowed to hold its procession towards Islamabad, but unyielding PTI Chairman Imran Khan decided otherwise and asked his supporters and activists to brave the hurdles and march on Islamabad

On its part, the government has indulged in an extensive crackdown in several cities of Punjab and twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad since Monday night and arrested more than 1,000 PTI leaders and workers to thwart PTI power show in the federal capital. 

The government has deployed Rangers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The mobile service has also been shut in many areas of Punjab. 

The government has declared emergency in government hospitals in twin cities in the event of any untoward situation. The Metro bus service has also been suspended. 

Imran Khan kicks off long march from Peshawar 

The main caravan led by former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan started from Peshawar at noon. 

The indomitable Khan vowed that despite all hurdles, he would definitely reach the D-Chowk Islamabad today. 

However, before the start of his caravan, Imran Khan released a video message on his Twitter handle in which he delivered a special message to the people, especially the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said: “I’m kicking off Long March from Peshawar. I will reach straight to Wali Interchange. I’m inviting all KP people to reach Wali Interchange from where I will lead this Azadi Caravan, the real freedom caravan, to Islamabad, God willing! I implore everyone to come out and join the caravan as this is the defining moment for Pakistan. We will succeed in achieving real success.” 

Imran Khan reached the motorway toll plaza from the chief minister’s house in Peshawar; the party workers will gather at the motorway toll plaza and leave for Islamabad under the leadership of Imran Khan.

Imran Khan was accompanied by party leaders including Pervez Khattak, Asad Qaiser, Shahram Khan Tarakai and Atif Khan.

He was also accompanied by Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Fawad Chaudhry, Haleem Sheikh, Shah Farman and other central PTI leaders.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and other provincial ministers and members of KP assembly also accompanied Imran Khan.

The PTI leaders and KP assembly members are also bringing convoys of workers and supporters from their respective constituencies.

The PTI convoys from Khyber, Mohmand and Peshawar districts will leave for Islamabad together, whereas, the party caravans from Nowshera and Charsadda will welcome Imran Khan at Charsadda Interchange.

The PTI caravans from Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and South Waziristan will reach Hakla Interchange under the leadership of Ali Amin Gandapur and other PTI’s MNAs and MPAs.

The PTI caravans from Malakand, Swat, Chitral, Dir, Chakdara, Buner, and Bajaur will join the party’s long march at Swabi Interchange.

The PTI caravans from Hazara, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Torghar, Kohistan and Koh Palas will arrive at Burhan Interchange under the leadership of Mushaq Ghani to join the party’s long march towards Islamabad.

The PTI workers from Orakzai, Kurram, Hangu and Karak will also leave for Islamabad under the leadership of provincial ministers and locals MNAs and MPAs.

On the occasion, the party’s KP secretary information said that no obstacle in the path of the long march would be tolerated. “If the central government puts any obstacle in the path, the workers will break it.”

MWM’s delegation participates in PTI’s long march

In the light of its decision to participate in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) ‘Haqeeqi Azadi long march’, a delegation of Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM), led by Allama Ahmed Iqbal Rizvi, on Wednesday left to represent the party in the march, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Quoting Raja Nasir Abbas Jaffery, MWM’s Media Cell said that creating obstacles in the way of people’s long march amounted to snatching their constitutional right. “Those who are obstructing the PTI’s long march do not want the country to come out of the US’s imperialism. “Every literate and politically aware citizen should become part of the march,” he appealed.   

KP cut off from Punjab; twin cities’ entry, exit points closed 

The government has shut all the entry and exit points of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI rules and from where Imran vowed to take out a rally towards Islamabad, has been cut off from Punjab.

Swabi Motorway has been closed for all kind of traffic from Anbar Interchange. The government has placed containers on Jhelum River bridges after breaking protective walls of the bridges. 

The government has already imposed Section 144 in Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad

Mobile service to remain shut in Lahore, Gujrat, Pindi, Jhelum 

The Punjab home department has accepted the demand of police to shut down mobile service in Gujrat, Rawalpindi and different areas of Lahore today. 

On all entry and exit points of Lahore, there will be no mobile service. 

The mobile phones will be jammed on Jhelum Road and GT road today. 

Faizabad situation 

The local administration has blocked Faizabad Interchange road leading to Islamabad. The district administration has closed Murree Road by putting up containers everywhere. 

Containers have been hauled to block Sixest Road, Chandni Chowk, Committee Chowk – the roads which lead to Cantt and Murree Road. 

Metro Bus Service closed in twin cities 

The Metro Bus service in Rawalpindi and Islamabad has been shut.

The service will remain closed till May 26. Sources, however, said that the decision regarding its opening will depend on the situation.  

Swabi Motorway

The Swabi Motorway is completely blocked. The PTI activists have started thronging the Anbar Interchange from where PTI Chief Imran Khan would lead a rally towards Islamabad

Attock district disconnected from rest of Punjab, KP  

District Attock, which connects Punjab with the KP, remained disconnected from other parts of the province. 

Police have blocked 14 entry and exit points of district Attock. GT Road has been closed from 8 points and Motorway has been shut from 6 points.

As many as 323 containers have been placed at these 14 points and these containers are filled up with sand. 

Besides this, 8,241 police officials led by their heads including three SPs, 8 DSPs and 18 SHOs would be deployed at these points. 

Yasmeen Rashid’s caravan shelled in Lahore 

Meanwhile, a caravan led by former Punjab health minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid was shelled near Batti Chowk in Lahore.

The caravan led by the cancer survivor came under the volley of tear gas shells. The Batti Chowk of Lahore presented a scene of the battleground between the PTI supporters and police as the police resorted to the baton charge and hurling teargas shells at the PTI workers.

Police hit Dr Yasmeen’s vehicle with batons and broke the windscreen of her car. 

The PTI activists hurled stones at police. 

 The activists started removing the barricades placed on roads and were moving ahead. 

Former energy minister Hammad Azhar also reached the Batti Chowk. 

The PTI workers and lawyers raised slogans against the government on the PMG Chowk.

The police started baton charge on party workers at Aiwan-e-Adal. They also flung teargas shells on the marchers.   

The activists managed to free detained PTI leader Zubair Khan Niazi from police custody.  

Seeing police shelling and arrests by police, PTI Senator Dr Zarqa flew into rage and started abusing cops. 

Former education minister Shafqat Mehmood was also present there sitting in his car as the police had closed the road. 

However, on Shahdra Chowk, the club-holding PTI workers removed obstacles and hurdles erected there. 

Later, the caravan led by Hammad Azhar succeeded in crossing the Ravi Bridge as all hurdles placed on the bridge were removed. 

Tear-gas shelling continues in Srinagar Highway, Rawalpindi 

The Pindi streets are also presenting scenes of battleground as there was hide and seek going on between police and PTI activists in Faizabad. 

Police continued hurling tear-gas shells intermittently at the unrelenting marchers. 

On the other hand, former interior minister Sh Rashid in his video message deplored that the government had laid a siege to his Lal Haveli. He claimed that more than 60 PTI workers had been rounded up. He, however, vowed to participate in the long march along with other workers. 

On the other hand, police were also indulged in shelling on Srinagar Highway in Islamabad. A prisoners van was brought there.

Some policemen got injured when the PTI marchers hurled stones at them during clashes on the Srinagar Highway. 

Clash in Gujrat

The workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) clashed with police in Gujrat and removed the containers from some places that had been placed to stop them from marching on Islamabad, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Wednesday.

It is worth mentioning here that the police have been raiding the houses of the prominent leaders of the PTI in Punjab in a move to bar them from reaching the federal capital following the PTI’s announcement of a march on Islamabad.

People in different cities have been experiencing difficulties due to blockage of roads with containers, and, news about PTI workers and police face-off in different districts of Punjab have also been reported.

PTI workers cross Wazirabad river bridge

The enthusiastic Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) marchers, led by local party leader Muhammad Ahmed Chattha, managed to remove all the hurdles placed on the Khanki Barrage Bridge at Wazirabad on their way to Islamabad, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Wednesday.

Despite the presence of large police contingents at and around the bridge, which clashed with them in order to stop them, the workers seemed to be least deterred and succeeded in reaching the other side of the bridge, leaving the cops helpless and stunned. 

The caravan was close to Jhelum till last reports came in. 

Speaking to the media on the occasion, Chattha said that on the call of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, he and his party men were determined to reach the federal capital. 

Earlier, the authorities had placed containers on the GT Road over Chenab River in order to prevent the onward movement of the PTI’s long march.  

The containers were even welded together so that they could not be moved from their positions.    

Although raids were carried out on the party leaders’ homes in and around the city late at night, but without much success.  

Sialkot

A heavy contingent of the Sialkot Police positioned outside the Jinnah House where police personnel arrested two persons including former ticket holders Shah Nawaz.

Around 14 people had also arrested from Sialkot on Wednesday.

PTI workers are gathering at the office of Usman Dar—former federal minister on Youth Affairs.

Police have arrested 16 workers from Sialkot so far.  

Kharian

Police have placed containers on the G.T. Road in Kharian city in bid to prevent the protesters and marchers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) towards the Rawalpindi city. 

The police personnel have placed containers on the main roundabout of the Kharian city and traffic on the G.T Road is lower than usual. 

Pattoki 

The Multan Road leading towards Lahore has been blocked at the Jambar area as administration have placed containers to put hurdles at the BS Link Canal Jambar.   

The blockade has literally made it impossible for any kind of traffic to pass from the Jambar area. 

A heavy contingent of police have been deployed at the Pattoki National Highway.

Police arrest 'hundreds' of PTI supporters

Police detained hundreds of supporters of ousted prime minister Imran Khan in a swoop going on for the last two days ahead of a major sit-in planned by the former leader, senior party members and police sources said Wednesday, as the government pledged to block the protest.

Police arrested PTI senior leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed last night in Lahore. He was arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Section 16. He will remain in detention for 30 days. 

Besides him, police also rounded up PTI leader Ijaz Chaudhry from Model Town, Lahore. Another PTI leader Senator Waleed Iqbal went underground before police came to arrest him. 

There is possibility that police would arrest other PTI leaders including Mian Aslam Iqbal, Jamshed Cheema, Nadeem Abbas Bara and Yasir Gilani. 

The police will detain all of them under the MPO 16 and send them to jail.  

Police also raided the Dera of senior PTI leader Bilal Aslam Bhatti in Lahore. But he was not there and police had to come back empty-handed. However, police started investigation from the employees of Mr Bhatti. 

In Mandi Bahauddin, police also intensified their swoop. They made a raid on the house of member National Assembly Haji Imtiaz Ahmad who evaded arrest but the authorities managed to round up scores of PTI activists and close friends of Haji Imtiaz. 

The MNA from Mandi denounced arrests and asked the authorities to show some sagacity as arrests and detentions could not stop the path of Azadi March. 

On the other hand, the federal capital police have also continued their crackdown on PTI supporters. 

According to sources, police have prepared lists of meal providers and cooks responsible to provide food to the marchers. Police will continue their crackdown on these service providers. 

More than 100 detained PTI supporters are being sent to jails under the MPO 16 in Islamabad

More police teams have been formed to intensify crackdown in the federal capital and a contingent of Rangers has also reached the Sports Complex. 

Khan, a cricket star turned populist politician, was kicked out of power last month in a vote of no-confidence, but has since pressured the country's fragile new coalition government by staging mass rallies across the country.

Alleging that he was removed through a "foreign conspiracy", Khan plans on Wednesday to lead tens of thousands of supporters from his power base in the northwestern city of Peshawar to the capital Islamabad demanding fresh elections. 

"Tomorrow I will be leading the largest march of Pakistan's history. I don't consider it politics but jihad," Khan said. 

Security was being built up across the country, with shipping container roadblocks hauled into place in Islamabad and the government quarter put on lockdown, while many entry and exit points around the city of Lahore -- around 380 kilometres (236 miles) away -- were also blocked. 

"This (protest) is being done to divide the nation and promote chaos," Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters. "Nobody should be allowed to besiege the capital and dictate his terms."

"This march cannot be allowed to take place," Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb added. 

Two police officials told AFP that more than 200 supporters of PTI were arrested in overnight raids in Punjab.

They were booked on public order offences and remain in detention, one of the sources said.

Fawad Chaudhry, the former information minister, accused police of not having the necessary warrants and put the number of arrested at more than 400.

"More than 1,100 houses were raided overnight. Police entered the houses without any warrants and insulted women and children," he tweeted.

One police officer was shot dead during a raid on a PTI supporter's house in Lahore, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz Sharif said.

Police have not officially commented on the arrests or allegations.

PML-N leader Attaullah Tarar said at a press conference that protestors had been planning to join the march "with weapons".

"We have information that they have started collecting ammunition at various places," he told reporters.

Political analyst Hassan Askari Rizvi told AFP that the establishment was currently remaining neutral in the standoff but "they may try to defuse the situation if it gets worse".

IHC orders police to release 70 PTI workers 

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday ordered the administration to release 70 workers of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which were arrested during multiple raids across Punjab cities. 

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah observed that how could a government arrest the workers when they had not done anything yet. 

The IHC CJ further ordered the administration to take surety bonds from the arrested workers of the PTI in case they damaged the Metro Station. 

The IHC CJ, who was hearing the petitions against arrests of the PTI workers and an intensified crackdown against them, remarked that the administration should inform the IHC if there was any information against anyone. 

The court also ordered to review the cases of all workers arrested by the police.

PTI activists, lawyers released  

On the orders of the court as many as 50 workers and lawyers of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) who had been detained at Badami Bagh police station in Lahore, in order to bar them from participating in the party’s long march towards Islamabad, were released .  

Led by PTI leaders Barrister Hassan Niazi and Overseas Pakistan Commission Chairman Waqas Iftikhar, the detainees came out of the police lockup.  

Police seek Rs100m funds to bear long march deployment cost 

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) long march will cost Rs100 million to the Punjab Police personnel being deployed at the Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Sargodha region.

The Punjab IG Police has been asked to provide the required funds to bear the cost.

The funds will be utilized for the food and the security equipment for the police department.

Sources claimed that the relevant branch of the IG Office will forward the funds demand to the movement.

Sources said that for the last two days, the police forces are bearing the expenses being risen on food and other things required to fulfil the needs of deployed police contingents. 

Imran Ismael dodges police on motorbike 

Former governor of Sindh and PTI Karachi chapter leader Imran Ismael in a movie-like situation first reached the Lal Haveli and then left the Haveli on a motorbike, reported 24NewsHD TV channel. 

Rawalpindi Police tried to arrest the Imran Ismael but Imran Ismael left the Lala Haveli vicinity on motorbike.  

The PTI workers chanted slogans in favour of the Imran Ismael. 

Earlier in the day, Karachi police first arrested 170 workers of PTI and later released them on court orders.

  

Reporters Farzana Siddique, Syed Azmat Ali Shah, Anwarul Haq, Nayyer Alam, Syed Tanveer Naqvi, Mian Ashfaq, Shahzad Ch, Ali Akbar, Irfan Malik, Qaiser Khokhar, Ehtisham Kiyani, Ali Sahi, Kafalat Ali Shah, Babar Shahzad Turk