Arterial Roads Sealed, Troops Deployed as Pak Govt Pulls Out All Stops to Stop Imran Khan’s ‘Azadi March’

The Azadi March of Pakistan’s former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan will reach D-Chowk in Islamabad on Wednesday, with the government pulling out all stops to stop the rally.

In a video message, Khan announced that their only demand was fresh, free and fair elections and they wouldn’t rest until a date for the same was decided. Asking his party’s leaders and workers to not be “afraid of jails”, Khan said “our march is not a political movement but a jihad”.

The ex-prime minister is in Peshawar right now from where he will leave around noon with a procession of party workers, addressing workers on roadsides too. The PTI rallies will reach Islamabad from Peshawar, Lahore and all across the country.

In a bid to thwart the movement, the government has sealed all major roads to and from Islamabad and deployed paramilitary troops in Islamabad’s Red Zone and Rangers in Punjab. Heavy police force has also been deployed at KP-Punjab border areas.

Attock is a bordering district with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where Khan has the support of his provincial government.

Meanwhile, on the second consecutive night of its crackdown, Punjab Police arrested senior PTI politician and ex-Punjab Provincial minister Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed from Johar Town, Lahore, along with several other PTI workers.

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On Monday night, Punjab Police raided the homes of several PTI leaders, including former energy minister Hammad Azhar, Usman Dar, and Babar Awan. During a raid in Lahore, a police officer was shot and killed.

The federal government has decided not to allow PTI to hold the long march towards Islamabad, announced Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah. The decision has been taken to stop them from spreading their agenda of manipulation and division, he added, referring to constable Kamal Ahmad, who was gunned down during a police raid at a PTI leader’s house in Lahore’s Model Town.

The minister claimed that the PTI leadership has disappeared from their residences and gathered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, alleging that it is planning to use the province’s resources and personnel to “come and attack the federation”.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has fixed a hearing for the Islamabad High Court Bar Association’s (IHCBA) petition against the government’s decision to block roads and raid houses of PTI members ahead of the party’s ‘Azadi March’. The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday ordered police to not harass the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders and party activists in the wake of the long march.

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In a fillip to Imran Khan, Ex-Servicemen Society’s senior leader Retired General Ali Kuli Khan has announced his and his community’s support for the PTI chief’s May 25 march.

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