Imran in Lahore to swell number of marchers

As he termed his imminent protest one of the “biggest freedom movements” in Pakistan, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman spent a busy Wednesday in Lahore assigning party leaders different tasks to ensure maximum participation of supporters in the long march likely to reach Islamabad on November 4 after spending a week on the road.

Former prime minister Imran Khan held multiple meetings in the provincial capital, including a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi at his Zaman Park House, to take stock of the political situation ahead of the march. He also assigned duties to party leaders to create awareness among the public regarding the march. The PTI aims to reach Rawalpindi-Islamabad on Nov 4 a week after the party begins its march from Lahore’s Liberty Chowk on Oct 28.

The rally, led by Imran Khan himself, will make the first overnight stay in Shahdra — right outside Lahore — followed by rallies and overnight stays in Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Jhelum, and eventual landing in Rawalpindi via GT Road.

In Lahore, PTI Central Punjab president Dr Yasmin Rashid and other party leadership on a container, painted red and green, toured from party’s Jail Road office to Liberty Chowk and planned arrangements for smooth gathering of party workers and supporters on Friday morning. In a video message, she invited party workers and supporters to take part in the march to jolt the “imported government”. Chiding Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah for establishing the walls of containers, she asserted, “The federal government will be demolished when the long march would reach Islamabad.”

Later, Mr Khan along with Parvez Elahi chaired a joint meeting of the PTI and PML-Q parliamentary parties — ruling parties in Punjab — and took the lawmakers into confidence regarding the long march. Mr Khan asserted that the protesters marching against the “imported government” would stay peaceful as their movement was aimed at a “soft revolution”. Both parliamentary parties’ members expressed their resolve to fully support and participate in the long march.

The ex-premier also visited Sialkot to drum up support for the long march wherein he addressed a gathering of lawyers and party workers. “The long march will be the biggest freedom movement in Pakistan. As long as I am alive, I will fight against thieves and robbers,” Mr Khan told supporters in Sialkot.

Mr Khan said his protest was beyond politics as he urged people to come out to support his march for ‘real freedom’. He also took a jibe at Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and warned him a ‘sea of people’ was coming to Islamabad.

‘Final destination Islamabad’

Meanwhile, PTI Central Secretary General Asad Umar submitted an application to the Islamabad Deputy Commis­si­o­ner’s office, seeking permission for a gro­u­­nd for the purpose of organising a political gathering between sectors G-9 and H-9.

In a statement issued from PTI Central Media Department, Mr Umar revealed that PTI march would reach Islamabad on Nov 4.

PTI Islamabad President Ali Awan in a letter to the deputy commissioner stated that the PTI had decided to hold jalsas/sit-in from November 4 known as ‘Haqeeqi Aza­adi March’ at Srinagar Highway between H-9 and G-9, near weekly Bazaar Islamabad, as per the decision of the apex court.

He said PTI Chairman Imran Khan would lead the ‘Haqeeqi Azaadi March’ and the sit-in. Ali Nawaz Awan also requested the DC to take necessary measures, especially related to security for the peaceful public gathering.

On the other hand, in order to deal with the marchers, at least 13,086 personnel — 4,199 capital police, 1,022 Sindh Police, 4,265 FC and 3,600 Rangers — have been deployed in the federal capital.

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