‘Power play – PTI v/s govt’, decisive day in Pak history today

ISLAMABAD: Today, 25th May is milestone in Pakistan’s political history and a ‘decisive moment’ when ‘power play’ would be demonstrated by former prime minister and PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan and his followers demanding dissolution of assemblies and announcing the election date.

Imran Khan has announced late night that he will reach ‘D’-Chowk in Islamabad via Srinagar High Way. The other party is the government which is branded by Imran Khan as ‘imported government’ and determined to stop the ‘long march’.

Imran Khan announced his decision on Tuesday to lead an anti-government march to the federal capital shortly after the government refused to permit the protest demonstration, saying it was a “decisive moment” that would determine the future direction of the country.

PESHAWAR: Former Prime Minister and PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan addresses a press conference in Peshawar on Tuesday.

Imran Khan, who has been seeking fresh elections in the country since his ouster from power last month in a no-confidence vote, said on Sunday he would march on Islamabad on May 25 while asking his supporters from different parts of Pakistan to join him there.

The government ordered a crackdown against his top aides and staunch supporters in different cities on Monday night before declaring it would not allow Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to stage the planned sit-in.

“This is a decisive moment,” Khan said while addressing a news conference in Peshawar, asking his followers not to fear the government’s heavy-handed tactics. I will be leaving [Khyber] Pakhtunkhwa with one of the biggest caravans in history tomorrow to go to Islamabad,” he added.

Imran Khan wondered why the government was taking stringent measures to stop the protest march while pointing out he had never broken a law in his entire political career.

Addressing the country’s top judiciary, he asked if it was going to allow the government to stop the march since it could put the institution’s reputation on the line.

He also mentioned “the neutrals” — a reference to the country’s military that described itself as “apolitical” while Khan’s administration was driven out of power – saying the nation would also judge them on the basis of their actions during the ongoing crisis.

“You have to decide which side are you standing on,” he maintained while adding that it was no longer an option for anyone to stay neutral anymore.

The former prime minister also warned the police and bureaucracy not to follow “unlawful directives” of the government.

“There are two ways from here: one leads to destruction while the other will take us to real independence,” he said adding that his march would bring “a sea of people” to Islamabad, making it impossible for anyone to stop it.

Reacting to the ongoing crackdown against the PTI’s workers and a ban on the Azadi March, the party’s chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan, while addressing the “neutrals”, said the entire nation is looking towards them.

Addressing a press conference in Peshawar, Imran said: “Neutrals! the entire nation looking towards you. A judgment will be passed on you […] you will also be responsible if the country goes towards destruction.”

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan alongwith other ministers addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Tuesday.

He announced to carry on with the party’s “Azadi March” despite the government’s decision to stop the long march. Imran said he would lead the “biggest procession” in Pakistan’s history tomorrow.

Turning his guns towards the PMLN-led government, the PTI chairman said he has been witnessing the Sharif family adopting the same tactics as military dictators since 1985.

“They tend to remember democracy as soon as they leave power,” he said, noting that the ruling parties had taken to the streets against the PTI government during the last 3.5 years.

“They entered the houses of people and didn’t care for the privacy of women,” he said.

ISLAMABAD: A view of blocked Marriott Chowk in Islamabad.

He condemned that the police entered the house of a retired army major while referring to a video that surfaced on social media in which a girl is in tears and saying that the cops harassed her.

Raids and arrests

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 development occurred just hours after Senior Vice President of the PTI Fawad Chaudhry warned the government against using force to stop the May 25 “Azadi March.”

The former minister of information stated that the government could arrest PTI leaders and employees if it so desired, but it would not be to its advantage. According to party sources, approximately 73 workers have been arrested thus far. During a raid on the residence of a PTI leader in Lahore’s Model Town, police constable Kamal Ahmed was shot in the chest and subsequently died at a nearby hospital.

ISLAMABAD: A view of blocked Marriott Chowk in Islamabad.

Rana Sanaullah

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah announced on Tuesday that the federal cabinet had decided it would not allow the PTI to hold its planned long march to the capital, which is due to take place on May 25 (tomorrow).

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said the government would not allow the PTI to spread “chaos and disorder” in the guise of the march. “They will be stopped so they cannot propagate their misleading agenda.”

“These people (PTI) have moved from abuses to bullets. A police constable was killed in Lahore.”

He was referring to Constable Kamal Ahmad who was gunned down last night during a police raid in Lahore’s Model Town. Federal ministers and the PTI have traded blame over who was responsible for the killing.

The interior minister claimed that the PTI leadership had gathered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and was planning to use the province’s resources and personnel to “come and attack the federation”.

“They want to come as a mob that has no legal or constitutional status … this cannot be allowed.”

Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan wanted to divide the nation, he added. “Don’t be misled by Imran Khan. He directed his party members during rallies to call people from other parties robbers and traitors. This is how he wants to spread chaos and disorder.”

Sanaullah said everyone had the right of freedom of expression and peaceful protest, however, the PTI did not want a peaceful protest. “Had they not called it a bloody march and talked about spreading anarchy, we would not have stopped them.”

He vowed to protect the lives and properties of the capital’s people “at all costs” and claimed that the situation would be normalised by 10pm tomorrow.

Sanaullah was flanked by leaders from allied parties, including JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Hyderi, PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira and Jamhoori Watan Party’s Shahzain Bugti who affirmed that the decision to stop the long march had been taken through consensus.