Despite last minute appeals for dialogue from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek are determined to march to the capital - come what may.
Many parts of Lahore and Islamabad have been blocked off with containers; sensitive areas are expected to be without cellular services for the duration of the marches; there is real fear that there will be blood as the protests advance.
Despite the Lahore High Court's order that maintained that the PTI and PAT's marches should not proceed, the parties' leaders said they would not be deterred.
Below is a round-up of the day’s political happenings and statements on the even of August 14.
End of live updates
Imran demands 'non-political' caretaker govt
Not technocratic, but a neutral and depoliticized caretaker government be formed that holds free & fair elections - Imran Khan #IKPressCon— PTI (@PTIofficial) August 13, 2014
"We do not want a technocratic [caretaker] government, we want a non-political one," said Imran Khan.
"I will sleep on the streets where you sleep. I will be with you," Khan told supporters.
We will rid Pakistan of Sharif monarchy: Imran Khan
PTI chief Imran Khan said that his party will bring true democracy to Pakistan.
"We want to rid Pakistan of the Sharif monarchy," he said. The PTI chief said that whenever the government breaks the law his party will break the government.
"We will demand that the PM that was involved in rigging should resign," Imran Khan said.
LHC prohibits PTI, PAT from march
Revolution march will take place tomorrow: Qadri
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri said that August 14 will be the day of his 'revolution march' come what may. He said that protests will be held in a peaceful manner.
"We have been the upholders of peace, so there is no possibility that the march will be violent," Qadri said.
"There is no possibility that our conduct will be one of violence... We have been the strongest opponents of violence and militancy," he said.
There will be no martial law: Javed Hashmi
"I am guaranteeing that there will no martial law. Imran Khan is going to guarantee this. Every worker of PTI is responsible – if martial law is imposed we will sacrifice our lives," Javed Hashmi said in a press conference.
Hashmi will join 'Azadi' march: PTI
PTI delegation with approval of IK met Hashmi & after an extensive conversation with Chairman, Hashmi will participate fully in Azadi Marxch— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) August 13, 2014
Senior PTI leader Javed Hashmi has agreed to participate in the 'Azadi' march scheduled to reach the capital on Thursday (tomorrow).
Hashmi reportedly agreed to join the protest caravan when a delegation of PTI members visited him to reconcile matters and persuade him to join the march.
The PTI leader had earlier refused to join the march.
Will not create any hindrance to political process, says Nisar
Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the government would not create any hindrance in way of the political process.
Addressing a press conference Nisar said that maintenance of law and order and security is the responsibility of the state.
He added that certain elements were not only threatening the government but the society as well.
'Azadi' march to go ahead "even if I have to go to prison", says Imran
The Lahore High Court has issued a short notice stating:
"The respondents PTI and PAT are restrained meanwhile from launching Azadi march Inqilab March or holding dharna at islamabad in an unconstitutional way keeping in view the sanctity of the Independence Day and the chaotic and uncertain situation prevailing in the country."
The short order issued by the high court said that any march that causes anarchy or is unconstitutional is not allowed.
PM denies giving permission for 'Azadi' march
A spokesperson from the Prime Minister House denied that any agreement to call off the march has taken place between Nawaz Sharif and Sirajul Haq.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisal Ali Khan is expected to announce the government's decision regarding the march.
Nawaz agrees to allow ‘Azadi march’ on Sirajul Haq’s request
— Rana Fawad reported from Lahore
LHC to announce order on Azadi march at 8pm
The Lahore High Court will announce its decision over the petition filed against the ‘Azadi March’ announced by PTI at 8pm today.
Earlier, the court had reserved its decision and said that a short-order over the petition filed by a citizen against the PTI’s Azadi March would be announced at 3pm and later at 6pm.
No differences within PTI, says Shireen Mazari
PTI’s central information secretary Shireen Mazari said that there are no differences within the party. "Javed Hashmi has supported and been involved in all decisions taken by the party in relation to the Azadi March,” she said
“He (Hashmi) along with Shah Mehmood had organised various functions in relation to the Azadi March recently.”
The PTI spokesperson added, “Misunderstandings do occur within families but I don’t see any reason for Javed Hashmi to have any difference with the party.”
Earlier, PTI leader Makhdoom Javed Hashmi appeared before media personnel and denied reports that he was not in contact with the party. He said that consultations were underway and an announcement in this regard would be made soon.
Altaf tells govt to remove barriers blocking 'Azadi' march
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain on Wednesday appealed to the government to remove all barriers blocking Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) 'Azadi' march.
In a message addressing the prime minister, the federal cabinet and the chief minister Punjab, he said that containers, trucks and all other barriers placed across Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi should be removed immediately.
He said the situation demands that the matters should be resolved through consensus and dialogue. "The people cannot be stripped of their constitutional, legal, political and democratic right," he said.
Hindu community members join the march
Govt writes to SC for formation of commission
The government has written a letter to the Supreme Court to constitute a three-member commission to investigate allegations of rigging during the 2013 elections.
The letter has been submitted to the SC Registrar by Barrister Zafrullah Khan.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday night, PM Nawaz Sharif had appealed to the Supreme Court to investigate alleged rigging in last year's general election.
— Reported by Mateen Haider
Imran should accept that people did not elect PTI to govern country: Rana Mashood
Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashood has said that Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan should admit to the reality that the people of Pakistan did not elect his party to govern the country.
Speaking to media representatives in Lahore, Mashood said that during the May 2013 election, officials in the caretaker set-up were opposed to Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) and sympathetic to other parties.
Mashood said that nonetheless, the people bestowed their trust on PML-N and it was strange that other parties were now bringing up allegations of rigging.
The provincial minister said Imran’s allegations of rigging against PML-N were unfounded.
Mashood said no one has been able to doubt the integrity of Justice (retd) Riaz Kiani and now Imran was going after him. He added that Imran previously regarded Iftikhar Chaudhry very highly but now the latter was tainted in the PTI chairman’s eyes.
“We wonder for how long Imran will remain respectful of the current chief justice,” the minister said.
LHC to announce order on Azadi march at 6pm
The Lahore High Court will announce its decision over the petition filed against the ‘Azadi March’ announced by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Independence Day at 6pm today.
Earlier, the court had reserved its decision and said that a short-order over the petition filed by a citizen against the PTI’s Azadi March would be announced at 3pm.
Imran sends delegation to reconcile with Hashmi
PTI chairman Imran Khan has sent a delegation of party leaders to reconcile with Javed Hashmi, who had developed differences with the leadership last night.
Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed, Arif Alvi, Umar Dar and Aijaz Janjua left Lahore for Multan to convey Imran's message. The PTI chairman has already assured Hashmi that his reservations would be addressed.
Workers being detained in Punjab: PTI
PTI officials say workers are being detained in several parts of Punjab as they make their way to the capital for the 'Azadi' march.
100 activists have been arrested in DG Khan, whereas the party puts the number of workers detained in Golra Thana, Islamabad at 50.
Islamabad under complete lockdown
Islamabad policemen fall ill, complain of stale food being served to them
Several policemen posted in Islamabad have fallen ill and have been hospitalised, following complaints of stale food being served to them.
Zakiya Nayyar reported that the catering company was preparing stale food for police personnel under unhygienic conditions.
LHC accepts govt’s review-petition against decision to remove containers
A three-member bench of the Lahore High Court led by Justice Mehmood Bhatti and comprising of Justice Masood Jahangir and Justice Arshad Mahmood would hear the petition filed by the government against the court’s earlier decision.
— Tauqeer Ghumman reported from Lahore
Rs300 bn losses at KSE due to political crisis, Dar claims
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday claimed the ongoing political crisis has caused Rs300 billion worth of losses to the Karachi Stock Exchange.
Addressing a press conference held at the finance ministry, Dar argued that the current political crisis was an "attempt to destabilise the country".
The finance minister made it clear that Imran and the Azadi March would be dealt with politically, while Tahirul Qadri would be dealt administratively.
Govt should allow long march to continue: Siraj
Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Sirajul Haq says his party supports the PTI in its demands for transparency in polls, electoral reforms and against election rigging.
"But we also want that all our efforts do not result in derailment of the democratic system. It is our wish that the long march reaches Islamabad safely," he said.
Siraj said that the government should allow the long march to continue, and that it was better that does not block the way of the PTI chairman.
LHC orders removal of containers in Rawalpindi
The LHC Rawalpindi bench ordered the removal of containers blocking roads all over Rawalpindi, Touqeer Ghuman reported.
The LHC headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi heard the petition against blockades along routes which affected business and employment and has also led to the shortage of food.
Policemen receive orders to remove containers in Lahore
Policemen deputed in and around Lahore’s Model Town area have been instructed by their seniors to remove containers and open roads leading from Barkat Market are to Jinnah Hospital, as per the earlier directives of the Lahore High Court.
— Wasim Riaz reported from Lahore
LHC orders removal of containers in Punjab
Entrances to Islamabad's Red Zone blocked
Only Margalla Road is open in order to enter the Red Zone area, otherwise all remaining roads are blocked through containers, including the routes to Constitution Avenue, Radio Pakistan, Serena Hotel and Marriott Hotel.
There is no mobile signal in the Red Zone area and police, Rangers and army personnel are busy patrolling there.
Toilets for 'Azadi' march participants
LHC to announce verdict on 'Azadi' march
The Lahore High Court has reserved its verdict on a petition against PTI chief Imran Khan’s 'Azadi' march. The court is expected to announce a short verdict today at 3pm.
The petition argues that the protest would propagate anarchy in the country.
Blockades = Bad show, says Sherry Rehman
The containers around Lahore r growing like weeds. Bad show. But :Will the Long Marchers b able to guarantee peace, no terrorists in midst?— sherryrehman (@sherryrehman) August 13, 2014
Punjab govt files petition against LHC order to remove containers
The Punjab government has filed a petition against the LHC’s decision to remove the containers blocking roads across Punjab, Arif Malik reported.
Moreover, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has called a meeting of all security forces today to review the law and order situation in the province. All important officials of the paramilitary forces are expected to attend the session.
The meeting will discuss the stance of the government regarding the security in the province after LHC has ordered for the removal of barricades. Furthermore, Chief Secretary Naveed Cheema and Home Secretary Punjab Azam Suleman have suggested that if the containers were being removed then a curfew should be imposed in the province.
PTI workers in high spirits a day before 'Azadi' march
The MQM point of view
Location of containers in Islamabad
— Photo published in Dawn's Islamabad edition
Islamabad is getting sealed
Authorities have placed cranes and barricades at several junctures of Islamabad to prevent marchers from entering the city.
Security across the capital has been beefed up. As many as 21,000 security forces — including the Islamabad police, Punjab Police, Azad Kashmir police, Rangers and other paramilitary forces — have been deployed at various sensitive spots of the city.
LHC orders removal of containers in Punjab
The Lahore High Court on Wednesday ordered the removal of containers blocking roads all over the province of Punjab.
A three-member bench of the LHC headed by Justice Mahmood Bhatti heard the petition filed against the hurdles created in the city by blockades along routes.
There were four to five applications filed by citizens in this regard in the LHC.During the hearing, the court asked the Inspector General Punjab police Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera if he knows how many containers were placed in the city and their locations as well.
The IG police replied that he was unaware about the situation of containers in the city.
Bloodletting likely during PAT march, PM told
The government is unlikely to allow the Pakistan Awami Tehreek to take out its Inqilab (revolution) march as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been told that some hitmen have infiltrated into its folds for bloodletting during the march.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, however, will be allowed to continue with its Azadi march after a ‘nominal’ resistance by police.
Mr Sharif was told that some hired-guns had infiltrated into the PAT ranks and they would initiate a clash with law-enforcement personnel and then resort to firing on the workers, he said.
Containers ready to be placed at entry/exit points - Dirt mounds, trenches dug at key points across city - Cellular services suspended in Red Zone from Tuesday night.
Army deployed along trails, ordinary citizens not allowed to hike onto Margalla Hills - Businesses, offices issue work-from-home orders - Diplomats told to limit their movements - Citizens rush to supermarkets, stock up on food and supplies...
No possibility of military intervention: Khawaja Asif
Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said that the government’s relations with the military were “cordial and fine” and he did not see “any possibility of a military intervention”.
“We still have four years to go,” Asif told the news service, adding that Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) had “a legislative agenda to complete.”
Islamabad residents rise against city closure
Social activist Fouzia Saeed said that a separate place should be designated for the protests. “The lives of federal capital’s residents should not be disturbed because of these protests. We are fighting a war against Taliban, so our focus should be on the war and the internally displaced persons (IDPs),” she said.Yasser Chattha, an educationist, said a number of containers had been placed all over the city after being impounded by the police.
“There are life saving drugs, milk for children and other edible items in those containers and no one knows how long this situation will go on. People should get together and raise their voice against the situation,” he said.
Zubair Faisal Abbasi, an intellectual, said that thousands of people, living in Islamabad, work on daily wages in different markets and buildings. “Because of the current situation, they are not getting any work and their life has been disturbed. Protesters should go to F-9 Park and record their protest,” he said.
LHC dismisses petition calling for Qadri's arrest
A bench of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition calling for the arrest of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri on charges of ‘inciting violence’.
The LHC bench rejected the plea for Qadri's arrest, saying that in the current political crisis, the arrest of any political leader may lead to further unrest.
Javed Hashmi in Multan, refutes rumours of intra-party differences
Hashmi had told reporters upon reaching his Multan residence that he was in the party and would remain a part of it.
“Whenever there is a difficult situation, I come to my constituency to sort it out with consensus,” said Hashmi on his arrival in Multan at a time when his party is close to launching its long march on the federal capital.
Responding to a question, Hashmi said no differences prevailed between him and other party members, adding that he was a democrat through and through and had endured seven years in a prison cell for the sake of democracy.