ISLAMABAD: Police firing tear gas clashed Monday evening with thousands of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters travelling towards Islamabad, where the party chief Imran Khan has vowed to stage a million-strong demonstration on November 2.
The clashes took place on the Peshawar-Islamabad motorway, as well as Swabi interchange and Attock border, as around 5,000 stick-wielding party workers tried to remove barricades put in place by police.
It was the latest confrontation before a planned lockdown of the capital on Wednesday by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. It is seeking Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation over his children’s offshore bank accounts, revealed in the Panama Papers leak.
Authorities in Punjab have also closed a motorway using shipping containers, as police and paramilitary forces stand guard around the highway.
PTI leaders Arif Alvi and Imran Ismail were released after a brief detention on Monday.
The two Karachi-based leaders were arrested from outside the Imran Khan’s residence in Bani Gala. Their release came after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar ordered police to immediately release them.
Television footage showed Capital City Police dragging Alvi into a car as he tried to remove barriers to reach Imran’s residence in Islamabad.
Ismail took to Twitter to share details of his and Alvi’s arrest:
Sunni Ittehad Council announces support for PTI protest
Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) Sahibzada Hamid Raza on Monday announced all-out support for the PTI’s planned protest.
Addressing a press conference at the National Press Club, Raza criticised the Islamabad High Court’s decision whereby the court has directed the PTI to hold its protest in a designated place, Democracy Park and Speech Corner, and not to disrupt the public life in the capital.
Interior ministry warns K-P CM against entering Islamabad with armed groups
The ministry of interior has warned that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak will not be allowed to enter the federal capital if he comes with armed men.
“In case of arriving in Islamabad with armed group he will be dealt as other agitators,” MoI spokesperson said. “If Khattak visits Islamabad of his own on Monday he will be welcomed and given protocol and security. However, he will be denied entry if he arrives here with armed group,” stated the spokesperson.
CM Pervez Khattak trips as stage collapses
CM Pervez Khattak tripped on Monday as the stage he was using to address PTI workers collapsed. However, he did not sustain any injury in the incident.
Addressing the workers in Swabi, he said the imposition of Section 144 seemed an attempt to stop people from protesting against the corruption, loot and plunder of the rulers. “We will leave with discipline… Imran Khan has invited us all to Bani Gala and there is no law that can stop us from protesting,” the chief minister told workers before leaving for the PTI chief’s residence.
Khattak called upon the government to open blocked routes for K-P PTI workers and went on to ask the activists to surround police force if they attempt to arrest them.
Talking to Express News the K-P chief minister said: “We have not given a call for Islamabad’s lockdown, however, we have asked our workers to reach the capital to hold a peaceful protest.”
Maryam Nawaz to send Rs1b legal notice to Naeemul Haque
Rejecting allegations of her involvement in leaking the information related to a high-level security meeting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz has decided to send a legal notice worth Rs1 billion to PTI spokesperson Naeemul Haque, Express News reported.
K-P, Punjab border sealed, claims Shah Mehmood Qureshi
PTI senior leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi questioned as to who was putting up containers, erecting blockades and stopping the workers if the administration was not involved in these activities “as per their earlier claims”.
“If containers were removed on your orders yesterday, then on whose orders have they been reinstalled,” Qureshi asked referring to Chaudhry Nisar’s remarks on Sunday.
Police raiding houses of our workers: PTI spokesperson
Addressing the media, Naeemul Haque claimed that police had been raiding houses of their workers. “Even the houses of our female workers have been raided.”
Haque further claimed that he too wasn’t allowed to enter Bani Gala. “My house is in Bani Gala but police didn’t let me enter.”
SC should take suo moto notice of arrest of workers: Imran
Earlier today, the PTI chief asked Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the arrests of his party workers by the police. Talking to reporters outside his Islamabad residence, Imran asked: “Under which law are my people being arrested? These are no arrests, these are outright abductions.”
The enormities, he said, were being ‘illegally’ committed by the government and that it was a test of the judiciary to prove its worth under whose nose the arrests were taking place.
Criticising the prime minister, the PTI chief said, “Nawaz Sharif is a product of dictatorship, he does not understand democracy.” Imran warned his party workers of a possible crackdown by the police today. “I have told workers to gear up as we will be offering resistance.”
People from K-P will arrive at Bani Gala while removing all obstacles created by police, he added.
Interior ministry urges K-P govt to not allow protesters to march towards Islamabad
The federal government has directed the K-P administration to restrain demonstrators from heading towards Islamabad, saying it would be in complete violation of law.
“Intelligence reports have indicated a select group of people will march onto Islamabad on November 2 with a declared intention of paralysing and holding hostage the people and government institutions in the federal capital,” said a communique addressed by the interior secretary to chief secretary K-P.
“It is therefore imperative for the provincial government to prevent any such unlawful congregation within its own jurisdiction,” the statement added.
The interior secretary went on to caution the PTI-led K-P government that “not discharging this responsibility shall amount to a violation of the constitutional obligation of the provincial government for which it shall be responsible.”
PTI chalks out plan to avoid Imran’s arrest
The senior leadership of PTI put their heads together on Sunday to chalk out a strategy aimed at dodging the government’s efforts to arrest their leader when he plans to make an appearance in the apex court on Tuesday.
The conclave decided that Imran will be flanked by a ‘galaxy’ of his supporters when he leaves his residence for the Supreme Court to witness the proceedings of a crucial case involving the Panamagate.
The strategy has been finalised in a bid to avoid Imran’s possible arrest or any other unfair means the government may employ against the party chief, a senior party leader, who attended the meeting, confirmed to The Express Tribune.