ISLAMABAD: Police firing tear gas clashed Monday with thousands of opposition supporters travelling from northwest Pakistan towards Islamabad, where their leader Imran Khan has vowed to stage a million-strong demonstration later this week.
According to latest reports, PTI workers removed containers through cranes to cleared the way forward. Reports also suggest that eight vehicles and ten motorcycles on Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway near Swabi were set on fire this evening. They also pelted stones on motorway police.
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak claimed that PTI protest will be peaceful.
1. Congratulations to CM KP & PTI workers for breaking through the illegal barricades put up by Punjab & fed govts.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 31, 2016
2. I want all our workers & all democratic ppl in Attock, Taxila, Hassanabdal & Tarnol to welcome KP CM & his caravan — Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 31, 2016
It was the latest confrontation before a planned lockdown of the capital on Wednesday by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party of cricketer turned politician Khan.
Hundreds of PTI workers from across the country have been arrested including in the capital, where a ban on protests was invoked last week.
The Islamabad High Court on Monday partly lifted the order, saying the opposition had the right to demonstrate but could not disrupt citizens’ daily lives.
Authorities in the central province of Punjab have also closed a motorway using shipping containers, as police and paramilitary forces stand guard around the highway.
Addressing supporters from his home in a suburb of Islamabad, Khan vowed a million of his supporters would reach the capital on November 2 and force Sharif from power. “One million people will come out in Islamabad day after tomorrow.
The whole of Pakistan is watching to see whether these police whose salaries are paid by us are really police or the personal guards of the Sharif family,” he said.
The planned protest comes at a sensitive time for Sharif, with the Supreme Court due to start hearing a case about the Panama Papers revelations on Tuesday.
Television images showed the crowd approaching roadblocks amid clouds of tear gas as night fell near the town of Swabi, about 70 km (44 miles) from Islamabad, on a highway linking the capital to the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Party lawmaker Arif Alvi and another senior party official, Imran Ismail, were briefly detained on Monday, and bundled into a police van near Khan’s home.
On social network Twitter Ismail said he had been “arrested brutally”, and posted a selfie picture of the two men smiling on the way to a police station. However, the interior minister swiftly ordered their release. Last week, the government outlawed gatherings of more than five people in Islamabad and neighbouring Rawalpindi.
Scores of Khan’s partyworkers have been arrested since, the party says. Khan,vowed not to back down unless Sharif resigns, or submits to investigation regarding the “Panama Papers” leaks.
Supreme Court is set to take up a case regarding the allegations on Tuesday. A nation-wide crackdown on supporters of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan continued on Monday, as Pakistani police arrested at least 1,500 people overnight.
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