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[Azadi] march madness: 3 days to go

Updated August 11, 2014

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The image shows Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif and Tahirul Qadri.
The image shows Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif and Tahirul Qadri.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Azadi March and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri's 'Revolution March' will now storm the capital together, further intensifying the stand-off with the government.

Many questions remain unanswered at this stage. Will Imran's 'peaceful' rally be hijacked by Qadri's more volatile protesters? Whose demands is the combined march really about — Qadri's, or Imran's?

Will speculations of a military intervention push the situation beyond the point of no return for Nawaz and co.?

Below is a round-up of the day’s political happenings and statements which will be updated in the build-up to August 14.


PM to address nation on Tuesday


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will address the nation on Tuesday night. The speech will be broadcast at 8:00 PM.

During his speech the prime minister is expected to focus on the current political situation in the country.

He is expected speak in large part about the standoff between the government and protestors led by PTI chief Imran Khan and PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri.


A new Pakistan coming on 14th August: Imran Khan


PTI chief Imran Khan on Monday said that a "New Pakistan" is coming on 14th August. He said that in the new Pakistan, the rule of law will be paramount.

Addressing party supporters at his residence in Lahore, Imran Khan said that the time of the "Sharif monarchy" is over.

"Want to give you all good news, the government rule is over. Time is up for them, be prepared to hold out.

"If you face [individuals like] Gullu Butt, what will you do? We will do with people like Gullu Butt the way they should be treated," he said.

"The army is with the people and even the police will not stop us," Imran Khan said.


Aitzaz warns govt and 'revolutionaries' against violence


Senator Aitzaz Ahsan on Monday warned the federal government and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan not to take any violent course of action.

Aitzaz Ahsan said that the PTI leader had been approached through several avenues in order to diffuse the rising tensions, including recounting of votes, but it had been in vain which was most regrettable.

The opposition leader said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has no need to worry because Parliament is standing by the government.


Clash between PML-N and PTI activists


Activists of the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) staged protests outside the residence of Imran Khan and shouted slogans against the PTI chief and in favour of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Later, PTI workers also gathered at the spot and engaged in sloganeering.

Supporters of both the parties turned violent and hurled stones on each other.


PTI does not support martial law, says Khan


After earlier claiming that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) would be responsible if the military intervenes, PTI chairman Imran Khan told reporters today that his party does not support martial law.

“Martial law is not the solution to the country's problems. People are scared that if they come on the streets, the military will come. There are thousands protesting in Britain (in favour of Palestinians). Is the military coming (in Britain)?” he remarked.

At the party’s core committee meeting yesterday, he dispelled the impression that his party was pursuing back-channel talks with the government, and stuck to his stance of 'no negotiations'.


Still room for dialogue, hints Nawaz


Speaking at the 'Vision 2025' conference, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that his government was open to dialogue.

In an direct reference to the PTI, Nawaz said that a long march on August 14 could instead be held for national unity. “If you think there are flaws, there are weaknesses or they are not in Pakistan's interest…then tell us.

“In the past, I personally came to your doorstep at one phone call from you. Call me again and I will be there. Let's sit and talk,” he said.


“Media has distorted my statements”


PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri on Monday denied that he had asked workers not to spare those abandoning the ‘revolution’ march.

Holding up copies of several national newspapers, he claimed that the media was distorting his statements. He clarified that his statements from yesterday's speech in Model Town pertained to him and Imran Khan, not his party supporters.

Newspapers had widely reported that Qadri had directed his followers not to spare anyone betraying and abandoning the so-called Inqilab march.

Qadri announced on Sunday that the march would move side by side with the PTI’s ‘Azadi’ march on Aug 14.


“Imran, Qadri leading Pakistan towards destruction”


Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah said Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri are leading the country towards destruction, and that both would be responsible if any untoward incident takes place.

Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament house, he said the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will condemn any undemocratic step.

“Following the 2013 general elections, all political parties accepted Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister but how can they reject him now after only 14 months,” he wondered.

The veteran PPP leader said that he had tried to convince Imran Khan of the ground realities and told him that staying silent on issues was tantamount to insensitivity, and that insensitivity leads to destruction.


Musharraf’s friends behind chaos?


Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal accused “friends of Musharraf of being behind the chaotic campaigns launched by Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri to destabilise the country.

In an obvious reference to the protests being organised by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehrik of Dr Qadri, he said: “The whole drama is being staged only because of the government’s decision to try the former president under Article 6 (of the constitution).

“Hidden forces” was his response when asked who was putting pressure on the government. He also accused the PTI and the PAT of promoting a foreign agenda.

Ahsan Iqbal said some friends of Musharraf were behind the campaigns launched by Imran Khan and Allama Tahirul Qadri who had secret understanding to destabilise democracy. “Their joint attack is against parliament and not the government (alone),” he said.


All hands on deck for 'Azadi March'


Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has asked the people to participate in the PTI’s ‘Azadi March’ to rid the country of what he termed suppressive regime at the centre.

The chief minister claimed that the people of Punjab had risen against the Sharif brothers as they had come to power through bogus mandate. “A government formed through rigged elections cannot serve the people,” he said. “PML-N is an offshoot of dictatorship and thus it cannot be a democratic party.”


PPP won't allow democracy to be derailed


Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani warned Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) leader Dr Tahirul Qadri against politics of agitation and said if any harm was caused to democracy, they would be held responsible for that.

“The PPP will not allow any adventurer to derail the hard-earned democracy through agitation,” Mr Durrani declared, and said the party would safeguard democracy at all costs.