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Imran Khan’s ‘Long March’ flops, but former Pak Prime Minister remains defiant

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Imran Khan

So far it has been a grand flop show. Despite ousted former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan’s claim that 2 million people will participate in his “Long March” for freedom, he could gather only a few thousand. 

Khan was seen asking people to come out from their homes and join the march. He also denied  making any deal with the government. 

“Rumours and false information about the agreement are being deliberately fabricated. Absolutely not! We are moving towards Islamabad, so there is no question of any compromise. We will remain the same till the dissolution of the Assemblies and the announcement of the date of elections,” Khan tweeted. 

 

Pakistan has been tense since Wednesday morning  as the ousted prime minister Imran Khan started his “Long March” to Islamabad from Peshawar.  

 

According to Pakistani media, there have been clashes between the PTI supporters and the security forces as they converged in the area to begin their march on Islamabad. The police resorted to tear gas shelling to disperse PTI workers when they removed barriers placed to block the routes.

 

“Other than sporadic incidents of police clashes in Lahore, Sialkot and a few places in Jhelum, Punjab is totally quiet, as is Sindh, Balochistan and KP. “The administrative muscle in KP has so far yielded the following result. The public seems to have said absolutely not to Khan’s Jihad,”  Syed Talat Hussain, a Pakistani journalist, said in his report. 

 

“Not from Punjab, not from KP  or Islamabad / Pindi, PTI members could not get out in significant numbers. Only a few hundred people are in different places. Only some noise on social media. PTI's failure at the very beginning of the real independence march,” says Gharidah Farooqi, a Pakistani TV anchor. 

The Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had banned Khan from holding a massive, planned rally in  Islamabad, and cracked down on his supporters in overnight raids across the country, arresting hundreds, but defiant Khan has called on his Tiger Force or Attack Force to remove all obstacles placed by the government on their way to Islamabad.  

Also Read : Tiger Force to bulldoze all obstacles on way to Islamabad

Meanwhile the Pakistani Supreme Court has asked the government to provide alternate space to Imran Khan to hold its Azadi March and create a traffic plan for protesters so they could reach it. The court sought assurances from Khan that the protest would be peaceful, property would not be damaged and there would be no torture or violence.

But the security agencies are worried as they fear that many miscreants are carrying weapons. 

 

 

 

The security agencies have also sounded red alerts by saying that Imran Khan's life is in danger as per intelligence reports of security agencies. The security establishment has raised fears of a suicide attack on the former prime minister. The government has no option but to detain Imran Khan to stop possible carnage, The News reported citing sources. 

Pakistan government says intelligence reports suggested weapons were being stocked and fire arms would be used in the protest to create anarchy. A raid in Lahore has also led to recovery of weapons from the residence of an official with Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

“Weapons recovered by Lahore police from vehicles of PTI Lahore office bearers Zubair Niazi and Bajash Niazi. Case registered. This is the ugly face of the so-called Long March”, she wrote.

 

According to media reports, the security forces have fortified the capital city of Islamabad and all exit and entry routes have been sealed. All routes leading to Islamabad are sealed with containers. The government has deployed the Pakistan Army for the security of the Red Zone in Islamabad. There are reports that the Pakistani military establishment is in touch with some close aides of Khan to persuade him not to create anarchy.

According to Pakistani analysts, Imran Khan is doing what he can do best. In 2014, he held a sit-in for over four months in Islamabad demanding fresh elections after accusing then-premier Nawaz Sharif of rigging elections. The frustrated and  angry Imran Khan has so much grief over. Experts believe Khan is trying to provoke the establishment to step in and ensure an early election.

Also Read : Angry Imran Khan steps up tirade against Army chief Bajwa