Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, gestures to his supporters during a Freedom March to the parliament house in Islamabad August 19, 2014 — Photo Reuters
PTI chief Imran Khan speaks to his party supporters in Islamabad. – Photo by Reuters
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Azadi march and Pakistan Awami Tehreek's Inquilab march have entered into Islamabad's Red Zone. Follow live updates below.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has said that Nawaz Sharif will have to go.
“I have a new plan if Nawaz Sharif did not resign before the deadline,” he said while addressing to protesters, outside the parliament.
He said that they would not leave until Nawaz Sharif resigns. Khan appealed all Pakistanis to reach outside the Parliament House and asked police not to obey illegal orders.
PTI chief vowed to bring real democracy in the country.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Marvi Memon has reiterated that minus Nawaz Sharif formula would not be negotiated, neither the Prime Minister would resign at any cost.
“We have super doper elasticity,” she said while talking about the possibilities of dialogue with the protesters. “The real issue was a desperate desire [of Imran Khan] to become prime minister.”
Memon elaborated that there was a difference between red zone and red line. “Though I couldn’t disclose the red line, it would not be let cross,” she maintained.
Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri has said that their only demand is the resignation of Sharif brothers.
Addressing the marchers outside the Parliament House, Qadri said that PAT would not invite army to mediate.
He said that the constitution would not be suspended but only amended. “We are not intending to capture the Parliament House.”
Qadri held Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif directly responsible for the ‘Model Town’ tragedy that had claimed 14 lives. “Government of killers is unacceptable,” he said.
He said that the federal government was responsible for the “Model Town Massacre” as well as the Punjab government.
PAT chief announced they will only go back once Sharif brothers resign.
DawnNews reported sources as having said that the Pakistan Army has taken charge of the Interior Ministry's control room.
Former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah however has rejected the reports, saying that the Interior Ministry is still in charge of the control room.
Amir Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Sirajul Haq, while speaking to DawNews said that both sides need to take a step back and resolve the issues between them.
He said that if the confrontation continues then it will be "Game over" for both sides.
ISPR spokesperson Asim Bajwa tweets: "Bldgs in red Zone r symbol of State & being protected by Army, therefore sanctity of these national symbols must be respected.
"Situation requires patience, wisdom & sagacity from all stakeholders to resolve prevailing impasse through meaningful dialogue in larger national and public interest."
PTI chief Imran Khan said that he has given Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif till Wednesday evening to resign.
"If Nawaz Sharif does not resign then we will enter into the PM House," said the PTI chief.
"United States is keeping a close eye on political developments in Pakistan," says State Department.
"We appeal to the PTI and PAT to pursue a non-violent approach to resolve the issue...Pakistani political parties should work out their differences through dialogue," the US State Department said.
Spotted: The 'Azadi' march PTI leaders (plus Sheikh Rasheed) on the mobile stage that is cruising through the Red Zone.
Amir Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Sirajul Haq, while speaking to a TV channel again urged both the government and the protesters to refrain from shedding blood and inciting violence in the country. He vowed to remain faithful to coalition partners PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Daughter of PM Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz Sharif tweeted: "Govt treading v cautiously & has tried its best to avoid & avert any untoward occurrence. IK, TUQ & followers must not resort to violence."
Barring a minor skirmish that left two PAT workers and one policeman injured, the march into the Red Zone has been largely peaceful thus far.
Speaking to DawnNews, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said that it is a peaceful march and the demonstrators will stay in the Red Zone till PM Nawaz Sharif and CM Shahbaz Sharif resign.
Screengrab shows Elahi partcipating in the proetst.
Minister for Railways Saad Rafique posted to Twitter, "Police is not using force because PAT, PTI march is leading by women & children."
A screengrab shows a glimpse of Dr Tahirul Qadri seated in his vehicle, en route to the Red Zone. Footage shows Qadri holding a rosary and craning his neck to look out the windshield in an effort to take in events unfolding before him.
DawnNews footage shows an injured policeman inside the Red Zone, who appears to be bleeding from the nose. His comrade takes a cloth to clean up the wound. It is not clear how this policeman sustained this injury.
Watch a short clip here:
Police personnel deployed inside the Red Zone look on as PAT and PTI workers march towards Parliament House. So far, the entry to the sensitive area has been largely peaceful.
Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that both the PTI and PAT want to achieve their objectives,"over dead bodies".
"We are still trying to resolve the situation through dialogue," he said.
"Our policy from the start has been not to use any force," said the information minister.
"What we are seeing today is a repeat telecast of what was tried [by Qadri] in the past," Ancherperson Asma Sherazi claims, hinting at an ulterior motive for the ongoing protests.
More reports are emerging of skirmishes between security forces and protesters.
DawnNews is reporting that police has baton-charged PAT protesters near Nadra Chowk.
Police deputed in Islamabad's Red Zone area were authorised to use force against protesters staging their Azadi March in the federal capital, according to the copy of a document available with Dawn.
Most women in the protest appear to belong to the PAT. Police and journalists have estimated that Dr Qadri has amassed a larger crowd as compared with Imran Khan.
Speaking to DawnNews, Majlis Wahdatul Muslameen (MWM) general secretary — a party that has allied itself with Dr Tahirul Qadri — Ameen Shahidi said that the only solution to the prevailing political crisis was resignation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
A screengrab shows a mother carrying her baby into the Red Zone
Television footage of the rallies in Islamabad so far show supporters of both PTI and PAT camps entering the Red Zone with ease. Police forces deployed for security have offered no resistance.
Participants of the PTI and PAT rallies have entered the Red Zone and appear to be walking towards Parliament. Imran Khan earlier appealed to workers to stay peaceful and not enter any buildings. However, he directed his supporters to "take revenge" if something happens to him.
Female party workers shower policemen with rose petals and flash the victory sign, while some male workers hold up sticks and glass bottles to prepare for an impending clash with security forces.
PAT workers are forming horizontal lines as they inch towards the barricaded Red Zone. About a dozen or so workers hold sticks are walking in sync towards the police.
The 'Azadi' and Inquilab march participants have reached the precincts of the Red Zone. Imran Khan is flanked by senior PTI leaders Javed Hashmi, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Pervez Khattak.
Some perspective from Dawn's editorial
Perhaps what Mr Khan is seeking is to be temporarily detained in front of cameras by the capital’s law-enforcement agencies and for the PTI activists to engage in some televised skirmishes as a way of ending the PTI rally on Mr Khan’s version of a high note.
Deplorable as Mr Khan’s tactics are, there is an immediate challenge for the law-enforcement apparatus of Islamabad to calmly and firmly but without the excessive use of force prevent the marchers from laying siege to state institutions.
DawnNews footage shows policemen laughing as they await the march advance. Drone footage shows hundreds of security forces standing ready.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he will not resign under any circumstance, sources say.
Workers wearing hard hats are taking pliers and clipping the heavy chains that have bound containers. It is clearly visible that Imran Khan is not at the front of the crowd.
Drones continue to cover the march as it advances.
Policemen in riot gear -- helmets, shields, batons, knee pads, bulletproof vests -- are seen patrolling the entrance of the Red Zone. A violent clash seems moments away.
"Oye Nawaz Sharif! I am coming! Resign now or you will pay a heavy price," a jubilant Imran cries out.
The PTI and PAT rallies have merged to advance as one.
"I'm coming! I'm coming to hold you accountable!" Imran says, as his mobile-container progresses forward.
Banega Naya Pakistan by Attaullah Khan Essakhelvi is played at the PTI venue, Imran and supporters sway to the music
On the other side of the containers, a massive contingent of security forces await the marchers.
In his black shalwar kameez and PTI sash, Imran Khan is on stage, pumping his fist and clearly in high spirits.
Imran addresses the crowd again:
"We are coming...take a right!"
"Guys we won't respond in the same language. Our brought up is different and our leaders legacy is of culture & civility. Patience pls" Maryam Nawaz says on Twitter.
"Every martial law has been imposed on a Tuesday – I hope today is not that Tuesday" Anchorperson Meher Bokhari says on DawnNews.
Charged supporters are moving forward - many are brandishing sticks. Some youth wielding sticks are seen surrounding one container. A few attempt to make an effort to push it.
The PTI crane is successfully lifting a container out of the way.
A large number of workers have climbed onto the PTI crane as it moves through the crowd, with one standing atop waving a party flag. The march is now inching forward.
Imran Khan's mobile stage has begun moving as well.
PTI supporters are pushing over containers, with the help of a crane. Visuals show security personnel asking the crowd to stop.
TV channels are reporting that some participants are moving towards the Red Zone (Aabpara) in a bid to push containers out of the way.
Participants wave national and party flags, with some cheering and dancing to express their jubilation that this five-day protest will proceed to Parliament.
It has been nearly one hour since Imran Khan announced he would head towards the Red Zone but there has been no movement yet.
The PTI march into the Red Zone has yet to kick off. Thousands stand ready waiting for a signal from Imran Khan, who remains on-stage.
Separately, large contingents of security personnel are moving into position behind the containers through which the PTI will have to march. The likelihood of a clash is high.
TV channels are reporting that security forces guarding the Red Zone have batons and shields, but no arms.
MQM Chief Altaf Hussain speaks on TV, expresses his dismay at how the political crisis has panned out.
"I appeal to these parties to give this government one chance to negotiate before they enter the Red Zone" Hussain says.
"I appeal to Shahbaz and Nawaz Sharif to have a heart, approach Imran Khan and Qadri."
With PTI supporters set to march forward, the 111 Brigade is in position for any security breach.
Dawn has learnt that police deputed in the Red zone area have been authorised to use force, including rubber bullets, tear gas and lathi (baton) charge.
The situation is especially dangerous as women and children are expected to march in the second row.
Imran moves towards the Red Zone with a prayer. Other leaders say a dua with him.
The PTI crane has begun to move forward, assumedly to remove the containers in the way.
Imran continues to stir up the crowd, directing them to move through Aabpara.
"Those youth in the back, come up front - come back! Don't go to the Diplomatic Enclave!" Imran pleads.
The crowd is highly charged, ready to march into the Red Zone.
PML-N leader Khurram Dastgir Khan, speaking on DawnNews, says "Even if there were a hundred times more people, they cannot dictate democracy with sticks."
Chaudhry Nisar, history will decide whether you stood with the downtrodden or the corrupt, Imran Khan says.
Imran Khan tells his supporters they will enter the Red Zone in 10 minutes.
"Don't enter any buildings" the PTI Chairman reiterates.
Hours after the deadline given to the government by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) expired, PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday evening urged his followers and supporters to march into the federal capital’s Red Zone.
Speaking to his supporters near the most sensitive area of the country, Imran called on his supporters to follow him up to Parliament and surround the building. He asked his supporters to remain peaceful and not enter the building itself.
Reiterating that he would lead the march forward himself, the PTI Chairman thanked God for "fulfilling his desire of waking up the nation."
“We are not Pashtuns, Sindhis, Balochs or Punjabis, but only Pakistanis today.”
He asked his protesters whether they were ready to march into the Red Zone, receiving an emphatic "Yes!" in response. Imran urged party workers to remain peaceful and avoid confrontation with security forces.
He also warned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif against using force against the ‘peaceful’ protesters.
“I will never forgive you Nawaz and I will follow you to London if you attempt to escape.”
Taking pot shots at the prime minister, Imran dared Nawaz to "try collecting 500 people without the help of patwaris".
Addressing police and security officials guarding the Red Zone, he urged them not to use force against his supporters.