Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan, allegedly leading the longest protest march in the country’s history, believes Pakistan is moving toward a political revolution but is still unsure if it would come through the ballot box or bloodshed.
Khan, who was ousted from power in a parliamentary no-confidence vote earlier this year, is leading the anti-government “long march” to Islamabad to call for fresh elections immediately. The march started from Liberty Chowk in Lahore on Friday, October 28, and has entered its fifth day.
“The sea of people along our March on the GT Road,” the chairman of PTI said in a Twitter post on Monday.”For 6 months I have been witnessing a revolution taking over the country. Only question is will it be a soft one through the ballot box or a destructive one through bloodshed?”
Imran Khan also shared a picture and a video of the caravan accompanying him.
The government has already made it clear that the participants of the long march would not be allowed to enter Islamabad. Over 30,000 officers have been deployed in and around the capital for protection.
Interior minister Rana Sanaullah has said the coalition government has still not decided if it would allow the demonstrators to enter the federal capital or not.
“It has not yet been decided whether to allow them [the PTI protestors] entry into Islamabad,” Sanaullah told a private news channel during a talk show on Sunday. “They would be allowed to enter if they ensure a peaceful protest.”
PML-N leader and defense minister Khawaja Asif also ruled out early elections, saying the assembly will complete its term. He also denied reports of dialogues with the PTI leadership.
Expanded red zone
In a rare move, the federal government on Monday expanded the boundaries of Islamabad’s high-security Red Zone till Zero Point. As per details, Faisal Avenue, Margalla Road, Bari Imam, and Fifth Avenue have also been declared part of the no-protest area.
Section 144 has been imposed in the areas declared as Red Zone, the district administration announced the same day, adding that no rally or public gathering will be allowed in the extended area.
Political tension in Islamabad
Political tension is on the rise in Pakistan since the PTI chairman announced to launch ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ march last week. Soon after, the federal capital was put on high alert. The interior minister has warned Khan and PTI protestors that Red Zone was the government’s “red line” and they should not cross it.
Since his ouster from power in April, the PTI chief has consistently demanded a date “fair and free” snap elections, warning that if the election date is not announced, he would take to the streets against the incumbent coalition government.
Khan’s party had attempted a long march to Islamabad in May as well, but the PTI chief called off the rally after violence erupted and the Punjab Police and the Islamabad police started suppressing the protest with force.