Tension has gripped Pakistan after clashes broke out between the government and PTI workers during the anti-government protests across the country led by Imran Khan, who was recently deposed as Prime Minister.
According to the reports, former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan had announced the long protest march earlier this month, demanding the dissolution of the National Assembly and a date for the next general election. Khan started his long march from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with thousands of supporters before entering Punjab to reach Islamabad.
As PTI workers reached Islamabad, the police tried to block them forcefully from moving towards D-Chowk. Earlier, Imran Khan had warned his supporters not to vacate Islamabad until a date for fresh polls was announced by the Shehbaz Sharif government.
The march that was meant to be peaceful, however, turned violent. Videos emerged of a police crackdown on PTI leaders and supporters in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and other parts of the country. The PTI supporters have also set Islamabad’s Metro station on fire as they entered Pakistan’s capital.
Islamabad IG Police has issued a statement saying eight police officials of Capital Police and seven personnel of Pakistan Rangers were injured as protesters pelted stones at them. He directed the administration to provide medical aid to the injured personnel.
مظاہرین کے پتھراؤ سے اسلام آباد پولیس کے 08، پاک رینجرز کے 07 جوان زخمی ہوئے۔آئی جی اسلام آباد نے زخمی ہونے والے جوانوں کے بہترین علاج معالجہ کی ہدایت کی۔افسران و جوانوں نے ریاست کی رٹ کو برقرار رکھنے میں اپنا بھرپور کردار ادا کیا۔ آئی جی اسلام آباد— Islamabad Police (@ICT_Police) May 25, 2022
PTI members clash with government forces across Pakistan
The PTI workers have hit the streets across all the major cities of Pakistan, including Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi, to join party chief Imran Khan’s demand to dissolve the National Assembly and announcement of fresh elections. PTI workers and leaders have defied the ban and took out marches demanding “true freedom”.
Violence broke out in Lahore as the police arrested PTI leader Hammad Azhar. The clashes had erupted after police arrested Azhar, who was leading the protest march in Lahore. In response, the police opened fire on supporters who gathered in Lahore’s Liberty Chowk area. Several women and children were reportedly injured in the police firing.
According to PTI, the police have resorted to heavy shelling to control the crowd near Liberty market, leaving many kids and women injured.
Absolutely SHAMEFUL AND DISGUSTING. Heavy shelling has started in Liberty where kids and women were also present and PEACEFULLY protesting. Fascist imported government you cannot stop us! #حقیقی_آزادی_مارچ pic.twitter.com/9QYZAvoLk8— PTI (@PTIofficial) May 25, 2022
During the protest, a PTI worker identified as Faisal Abbas Chaudhry died after falling from a bridge near Batti Chowk, Lahore. According to PTI leader Shafqat Mehmood, the police pushed him from the bridge.
The protests have come despite the Pakistan government’s ban on PTI’s long march.
Amidst the protest march, the Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan government has requested the army to step in and protect the Red Zone as tension grips Islamabad.
“Pursuant to the law and order situation in the Islamabad Capital Territory, the Federal Government, in the exercise of powers conferred under Article 245 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, authorises the deployment of sufficient strength of troops of Pakistan Army,” Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said in a government order posted on Twitter.
Meanwhile, a crackdown has started across cities, with the police arresting hundreds of PTI workers and some of its leaders to stop them from joining the ‘Azadi March’. The government has also imposed Section 144 to restrict big gatherings in Lahore, the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Karachi, and other major cities.
Fall of Imran Khan government
On April 9, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was deposed as he lost the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, bringing an end to a high political drama that had lasted several weeks.
The trust vote was supposed to take place on April 3, but in an unexpected move, deputy speaker Qasim Suri cancelled the proposal, refusing to put it to a vote. Imran Khan then proposed dissolving the national legislature and holding new elections, which the president agreed to. However, the opposition filed a petition with the Supreme Court, which found that the deputy speaker’s actions were unconstitutional.
The two main opposition parties led by Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto respectively came together to form the new government.