Pakistan capital sealed as country bracing up for marches

Pakistan politician Imran Khan has called for freedom march. File pic
Pakistan politician Imran Khan has called for freedom march. File pic

Pakistan is tense on independence day today and bracing for “revolution” and “freedom” marches called by country’s two major political forces to overthrow elected government.

Islamabad, Aug 14/Nationalturk – Pakistan is celebrating independence day today amid tension as police have sealed off capital Islamabad in view of “revolution” and “freedom” marches called by Pakistan’s two major political forces to overthrow elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Police have sealed off Islamabad with barbed wires and shipping containers in a bid to foil protest marches called by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and cleric and political Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).

Imran has called for “Freedom march” and Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri has called for “revolution march” to overthrow Nawaz Sharif’s government, which was elected last year.

Authorities have deployed over 35,000 police and paramilitary forces to try to thwart major anti-government rallies. The authorities have also suspended mobile services in some parts of the country.

Khan and Qadri are not officially allied but both are calling for the ouster of a government they condemn as corrupt, which came to power after a sweeping General Election victory for the party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last year.

The government has already enforced Article 245 — thereby calling in the Pakistan Army for its support in securing Islamabad, where as Section 144 was also declared in the capital.

PTI, PAT adamant to go ahead with marches

The PTI and PAT have remained adamant that the march will happen.

The cleric’s supporters were isolated and blockaded in the area around his home by shipping containers placed across roads by the authorities. Those inside said food and water were running low and telephone services in the area were suspended.

While speaking to his supporters outside his house in Model Town in Lahore in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Canada-based cleric Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri said his revolution march is for the citizens to get their constitutional rights.

“There will be no permission for martial law and zero tolerance for terrorism and extremism. We will bring about devolution of power as practiced in all democratic countries in the world. All authorities will be transferred to the grass root level,” he said.

Our march is for true democracy: Qadri

Qadri said his revolution march is for the democracy. “It is time to restore true participatory democracy in the country; poor should be relieved of poverty.”

He said gender equality will be part of his revolution as well. “The rights of minorities will be protected and no one will be allowed to attack them as well as their places of worship.”

The cleric said his revolution will improve the condition of the poor and socio-economic conditions of every citizen. “Every homeless family will be provided with a home, the unemployed will be provided with jobs and the low paid people will be provided with the basic necessities on half price. Electricity, gas and water will be provided at half price to low income people”.

Imran’s supporters heading towards Islamabad

Meanwhile, Imran Khan’s supporters are heading towards Islamabad in large numbers from different parts of the country.

At Imran Khan’s home, protesters were chanting, listening to music and preparing to set off on the 370-km   journey form Lahore to Islamabad, said Asad Umar, a Member of Parliament from Khan’s PTI.

Wishing his supporters happy Independence Day, Imran recalls the struggle of 1947 and vows to continue fighting for the country.

He told his supporters to take part in the struggle to make Pakistan a better country. “No monarch will hand you freedom in a platter. Today is decisive to liberate ourselves. I will reach Islamabad, you will be with me and we will make ‘Naya (new) Pakistan.’”

“Today will be the beginning of the end of despots and monarchs, God willing. True democracy means true freedom,” added Imran.

It now remains to be seen how the government tackles the two marches. Will the use force or allow the marches remains to be seen?

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Asia News/ NationalTurk Pakistan News


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