There were skirmishes between police and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers all over the country when forces blocked their way to Islamabad for Azadi March on Wednesday.
The workers came out on the call given by PTI Chairman Imran Khan who demanded immediate dissolution of assemblies and date for general elections.
In Lahore, police teargassed and lathi charged PTI marchers on the Bati and Bhatti chowks who attempted to remove containers placed on roads towards Islamabad.
News channels have been covering the Azadi March live while video of police action have been uploaded on social media.
PTI lawyers and workers had scuffles with police outside Aiwan-e-Adal and Post Master General office.
According to PTI’s official Twitter account, the marchers were also stopped at Shahdara. At the Niazi Chowk, PTI workers removed impediments and marched forward.
Meanwhile, another PTI caravan led by Hammad Azhar managed to get across the obstacles and crossed Lahore. He is now reportedly on the GT Road on his way to Islamabad.
From Lahore, Azhar said, the containers on Bati Chowk, Ravi Bridge and Shahdara have been removed and the roads have been cleared by “the public”.
Police stopped Yasmin Rashid’s vehicle at Bhatti Chowk. An exchange of words could also be seen after police reportedly attempted to yank out the key of the vehicle she was travelling in.
The situation is tense in other cities of the Punjab.
A faceoff was reported between PTI supporters and the police in Gujranwala when the latter tried to stop them with barricades near Khanki Headworks. However, the marchers forced their way through the obstructions and moved ahead.
The caravan, led by Chaudhry Ahmed Chattha, is now on way to Islamabad.
According to PTI’s Gujranwala General Secretary, Tariq Gujjar, 150 people from the caravan have been taken into custody.
All eyes are on Islamabad as the city braces itself for heated political activity with the PTI workers and leaders heading towards the federal capital from various parts of the country despite the government’s instructions no to do so.
The Islamabad administration has clamped Section 144 in the capital and strictly implementing the law. It is reported that more than 100 PTI workers have been arrested.
The local authorities have barricaded all entry points into Islamabad with containers to obstruct the way of PTI marchers.
The barricades have been placed for two primary tasks: first to contain the long march and second to ensure fool-proof security of the Red Zone. All the roads leading to Red Zone have been sealed, except Margalla Road. Containers have also been placed at D-Chowk to seal the area around the Old Parade Ground and Parliamentary Lodges.
Thousands of policemen, including the Anti-Riot Unit, Counter-Terrorism Force, Anti-Terrorism Force, and police reserve along with contingents from Rangers are being deployed to maintain the law and order situation in the city.
GT Road, Motorway blocked
Meanwhile, barriers have been erected at several points on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road and Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway as well. The authorities have blocked all the land routes between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab by putting huge piles of mud, containers, ballast stones, cement blocks and iron barriers and fences at many places.
Heavy contingents of the personnel of stick-wielding police force and Rangers have also been deputed at GT Road and Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway to stop the way of PTI workers towards Islamabad.
Roads blocked in Karachi
Meanwhile, in Karachi, a sit-in is expected at Numaish Chowrangi. According to traffic police, MA Jinnah road and its adjoining areas have been blocked. Amid roads that have been blocked include:
The road leading toward People’s Chowrangi from Numaish Chowarnagi
Corridor 3 New Preedy Street from Saddar Dawakhana road leading towards People Chowrangi
Nizami Road (heading from Lines areas to Numaish Chowarngi ) has also been blocked
Govt plans to detain Imran
The government is reportedly planning to detain PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his associates on their way from Peshawar.
A top security official said that the action would be taken in a bid to stop what Imran Khan is saying will be the “biggest procession” in Pakistan’s history.
On Tuesday, the government decided to use all its force to foil PTI’s “Azadi March,” with the police continuing its crackdown against PTI workers and officials. Section 144 has been imposed in Lahore, Karachi and the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and the roads leading up to the capital city from different parts of the country have been blocked.
This is a developing story