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Pakistan

Not for politics or personal gain, says Imran as he presses on with 'long march'

  • PTI aims to pressure govt into calling early elections
Published October 28, 2022
'Haqeeqi Azadi' march: Imran Khan arrives at Lahore's Liberty Chowk

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Friday that it was time for the country to start "its journey of true freedom" as his party began its long "peaceful" march amid hope the protest would force the government to announce immediate elections.

This is the second such march by Imran this year, with the first held on May 25. It was called off after violent clashes between PTI supporters and law-enforcement agencies in different cities.

However, he has now again gathered hundreds of supporters to join a caravan of cars and trucks heading for the capital Islamabad to pressure the government into calling snap polls.

On Tuesday, the PTI chairman had said the 'Haqeeqi Azadi' march would be held this Friday, claiming it will be the biggest in the history of Pakistan.

The former PM had said the march will begin from Liberty Chowk at 11 am and he would lead it to the capital through GT Road.

By the time he gets there, Imran said he expects to have hundreds of thousands of people with him.

The march will pass through Ferozepur Road, Icchra, Azadi Chowk, Mozang, Data Darbar side.

March is for country's freedom: Imran

After arriving at Lahore's Liberty Chowk, the former PM said that this march was not for political gain or personal interest, but for the freedom of the nation.

"Its only aim is to free my nation and turn Pakistan into a free country," said Imran, at loggerheads with the current government over holding early elections.

“I want free and fair elections. I want the people to decide who will lead the country — not Washington, America or anyone else,” added Imran, who has looked to build pressure on the government after being ousted in a no-confidence vote in April this year.

PTI members also told journalists on Friday that the party was willing to negotiate with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's coalition government if it announced a date for a snap election.

Imran Khan's container is ready: PTI

Sheikh Rashid hopeful 'election date would be announced'

Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid while leaving for the march expressed optimism that "the nation will come out" and that "an election date would be acquired".

The government, on the other hand, has repeatedly said that it will complete its tenure, set to end next year.

People begin gathering at Liberty Chowk

PTI leaders Yasmeen Rashid, Hammad Azhar leave for Liberty Chowk

Fawad Chaudhry urges people to come out

Ahead of the march, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry took to Twitter, calling out the people in Lahore to come out to "change the system of Pakistan". The leader said that if the people do not come out, then "the lives of children will pass through the rotten system".

'Government will deal long march participants with an iron hand'

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah warned on Friday that the government will deal with long march participants with an "iron hand", adding that “strict action” will be taken if they attempt to break the law.

“If protesters abide by the law, we will facilitate them,” the minister said.

Civil servants, government officials cannot become part of protest

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior has issued an office memorandum, telling government employees that they will not be allowed to join the protest.

"Clear civil servants are bound to act as servants of the state and their actions should be subservient to the relevant constitutional provisions to ensure smooth conduct of relations between the federation and the provinces," the memorandum read.

Police top officials asked to ensure foolproof security arrangements

Ahead of the march, Punjab Inspector General Police (IGP) Faisal Shahkar directed the top brass to ensure foolproof security arrangements.

The IG Punjab directed that all available resources should be utilized for the security of the citizens participating in the long march, especially in Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujarat and Rawalpindi and the law and order situation should be maintained at all costs.

PTI’s long ‘march’ to Islamabad: Police top officials asked to ensure foolproof security arrangements

He added that the activities of the participants will be monitored through CCTV cameras at the CPO. He directed the police teams to speed up search and combing operations in all districts and said the routes of long march should also be monitored with CCTV cameras.

Imran has accused the military of supporting his opponents' move to oust him. The country's military says it is staying out of politics, and on Thursday the intelligence chief accused Khan of asking for "illegal and unconstitutional" support for his government.

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