LAHORE, Jan 13: Led by Dr Tahirul Qadri, the Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran’s long march finally left Lahore for Islamabad on Sunday afternoon.

The march started from Model Town at 1.50pm, around five hours after the announced schedule. Dr Qadri and thousands of his followers made victory signs and expressed determination to reach the D-Square in front of the Parliament House in Islamabad to achieve their objectives ‘despite all hurdles’. Police and Rangers personnel and TMQ’s own security volunteers escorted the march.

The marchers left Lahore via the Grand Trunk (GT) Road after passing through various thoroughfares, including the Canal Road, Garhi Shahu, Railway Station, Circular Road, Ravi Road and Shahdra.

The marchers, including women and youths, were shouting slogans in support of Dr Qadri and his programme. Music systems installed in some vans played revolutionary songs and music.

A crane was accompanying the convoy to remove containers or any other obstacle on the way. Before departure, the organisers had stocked thousands of litres of fuel and a large quantity of foodstuff.

Holding national flags, the participants appeared determined to reach Islamabad and get Dr Qadri’s charter of demands accepted by the government. “I am participating in the long march as a brave daughter of the nation,” a girl named Shazia told this reporter in Model Town.

Talking to reporters before his departure, Dr Qadri said: “Nearly 20 vehicles booked for taking media people and 10 deputed for my own security have been snatched by the rulers. Drivers have been arrested after officials impounded their buses and trucks booked for the march in various cities. But now no-one can stop the revolution of change and we will reach our destination to eliminate thieves and plunderers by all means.”

He accused the government of having parked tankers filled with acid and gas and filling explosives in ditches dug on the way in order to attack the peaceful marchers and create unrest.

He termed 2013 a year of a democratic march for change.

“It is a march for the families sitting along with the bodies of their dear ones in Quetta. It is for getting rid of injustice, corruption, poverty, unemployment, terrorism and other problems the people are facing.”

He said that despite all hurdles the participants had left their cities even on foot to join the march.

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