Ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the much anticipated “long march” to begin on the 25th of May. With people coming to Islamabad from all over Pakistan, this has the makings of being the biggest protest in the country’s history. In his address, Imran Khan made several demands, such as the dissolution of the current assemblies and an exact date to be set for fresh elections.
After this call, the country was thrown into chaos. The current government has quickly mobilised the police force to stop the protest. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah announced on Tuesday in a press conference that the federal cabinet had decided it would not allow the PTI to hold its planned long march to the capital. The government had taken a strong stance against Imran Khan’s call to protest. They say they will not allow PTI to spread chaos and disorder in the name of protesting. And they are prepared to do anything to stop their propaganda of an international conspiracy.
Their steps may be considered a bit extreme even by Pakistani standards. Hundreds of arrested and raids were made, targeting prominent members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Police have been reported to barge into the homes of party members in the middle of the night. People have come forward with complaints of misuse of force, manhandling family members and even arrested employees that work at their homes. During one of their raids, a policeman was gunned down. Constable Kamal Ahmad was gunned down last night by unknown assailants during a police raid in Lahore’s Model Town. Federal ministers and the PTI have been accusing each other over who was responsible for the killing. Ahead of this crackdown, the Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz put out a statement apologising to the people for the measures that will be needed to be taken in order to stop this protest. “I ask forgiveness from people. We are doing this with a heavy heart. If we bear one day of hardship, then we may be saved from his (Imran’s) plan of jamming the whole of Pakistan,” he said.
Imran Khan has condemned these illegal arrests and raids on his fellow party members’ homes. He stated that these arrests are what we have come to expect from PML-N each time they have come into power. Imran Khan labelled these actions as fascists and stated that such steps would further plunge the country into anarchy. He also reminded the army to stay true to their word and remain neutral.
Despite such extreme measures and many members facing jail time, Imran Khan and his supporters are determined to continue their march to Islamabad tomorrow. As they firmly believe that a peaceful protest is their democratic and constitutional right. Now the whole country is holding their breath and waiting to see how these events will unfold.