As Pakistan celebrated Independence Day Thursday, activists and supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehrik remained determined to march toward the capital to protest against alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections.
It is uncertain how the days will unfold and the fear of violence persists as parts of the capital have been blocked off by containers and cellular services remain suspended there. The caravans that departed from Zaman Park and Model Town have moved slowly, hours into the movement.
The developments come as the Lahore High Court has maintained that the two parties should not continue with the course and the government has begun taking steps to establish a judicial commission to investigate alleged malpractices in the 2013 polls.
Below is a round-up of the day’s political happenings.
Interior ministry suggests 40,000 activists of PTI entered in Islamabad
Interior ministry presented a report, suggesting that 40,000 activists of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have entered in Islamabad.
The report said that PTI chairman Imran Khan has been accompanied by 20 to 30 thousand workers, however the headcount could be excessive to 200,000 in Islamabad.
As per details, the report pointed out that more than expected participants of the march would result in administrative problems for the government to tackle the situation.
PTI supporters in festive mood near Islamabad's Zero Point
Several thousand PTI supporters from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have gathered near Islamabad's Zero Point in a festive environment.
The PTI supporters were almost entirely men, with very few women and families. Islamabad and Punjab police have been stationed at Zero Point, but the atmosphere was completely peaceful.
Imran Khan's sons are in London: PTI
Rubbishing reports that PTI Chairman Imran Khan's sons are part of the 'Azadi' rally moving from Lahore to Islamabad, senior leader Naeem-ul-Haque told Dawn that Qasim and Sulaiman are in London.
"The boys left Pakistan for London on August 10," Haque said via telephone. He said the media is mistaking Imran's nephews for Qasim and Sulaiman. He also said reports that Imran's nephew has fallen from the container are untrue.
Earlier, the boys were in Pakistan to meet their father.
Things get heated
Our march is independent, we are not joining anyone: Qadri
PAT chief Tahirul Qadri said the question now is not about how long his march will stay in Islamabad. It is about how long it will take to get there.
"Our workers have removed containers themselves," he said.
"It is not about joining Imran. He is going his own way. I do not know where he is at this point," said Tahirul Qadri.
For Imran, with love
Red Zone will not be crossed: Chaudhry Nisar
PAT supporters in Lahore come prepared
Peshawar 'tsunami' reaches Islamabad
PTI founding member Imran Ismail tells Dawn that he has arrived from Peshawar along with Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
“Can’t give you an exact figure but there seem to be at least 100,000 people in this caravan,” he said.
Ismail added that the group has reached the Faizabad Interchange, which had been blocked by containers.
“You can imagine the numbers here – containers have been pushed and we have cleared the way.”
PAT takes on PML-N
Activists of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) clashed with Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) workers near Mall Road.
According to DawnNews reporter Arif Malik, baton-wielding PAT workers scuffled with PML-N workers, making them flee the area.
Banners and posters of the PML-N and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif were also taken down by emotional supporters of PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, as they chanted slogan in favour of the 'Inqilab' march.
This is the capital – red lines will not be crossed: Nisar
Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan says that the security inside Islamabad's Red Zone has been 'tripled'.
Speaking at a press conference, Nisar said that protesters should have no doubts about crossing into the Red Zone in the capital. “I want to make it clear – and no one should have any doubts – I have also told the PM… If the Red Zone security is breached, if diplomatic zone security is breached, the law will take its course,” he said.
“Despite threats and abuse [from opposition parties], the government has not responded in that manner.”
“But this is the capital, red lines will not be crossed.The security will not be tampered with,” he said.
"If you want to protest, you are most welcome. But if you want to take the law into your hands - that will never be allowed," he said.
He said that the government gave in to the PTI’s demand for a long march “drama” despite their insistence that women and children will participate.
“But when you sit here, and if someone crosses that line, law will take its course. No one should have any doubt.We do not want a security situation on our hands.”
PTI workers vs Container
According to updates on Twitter, PTI workers have had some success in removing containers at the Faizabad Interchange.
Crowds at Faizabad heavy the container OUT OF THE WAY - HUMAN FORCE - now not even containers will stop #AzadiMarchPTI— Awab Alvi (@DrAwab) August 14, 2014
Breaking News. PTI workers has started removing containers & obstructions in Islb. Police has started leaving.— Khurrum SherZaman (@KhurrumZamanPTI) August 14, 2014
Imran says heading to Islamabad to demand PM's resignation
Photo: Khurrum Sherzaman/Twitter
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan says that he is heading to the federal capital to demand the prime minister's resignation.
Imran was speaking to party workers and supporters while making his way to Islamabad on his 'Azadi' march.
"The 2013 elections were rigged," he said, pressing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down. "If you have any shame left, hand in your resignation," said the PTI chairman.
Policemen resting near Faizabad
Imran rally nears Faisal chowk on Lahore's Mall road
The PTI rally led by Imran Khan in Lahore reached near Faisal Chowk situated on Mall road area, six hours after departure from Zaman Park.
This distance takes roughly 35 to 45 mins on foot.
PTI workers claim that the slow pace of the rally is due to the large number of workers and supporters on the streets.
Earlier during the day, analysts had raised questions over the turnout for the 'Azadi' march.
— Sana Naqvi reported from Lahore
Container Run: 'Azadi' is a mobile app away
While gameplay leaves a lot to be desired, Container Run is conceptually brilliant...
Three suspected terrorists enter Islamabad, police put on high alert
The Islamabad police was put on high-alert after reports of three suspected terrorists entering the federal capital were received from intelligence sources.
Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also instructed for beefing up of security and additional deployment of security personnel in Islamabad especially in and around the ‘Red Zone’ areas.
— Shakeel Qarar reported from Islamabad
Over 300 PTI activists gather at Zero Point
The activists are complaining that the Dhoke Kala Khan stop that leads to Zero Point has been shut down with containers. Containers that had been removed earlier today have been placed again at Faizabad interchange.
Khattak-led ‘Azadi march’ convoy departs from Peshawar
A Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) ‘Azadi march’ convoy comprising hundreds of vehicles left for the federal capital city from Peshawar Motorway Interchange.
Chief coordinator of the march, Saifullah Niazi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet ministers, legislators and workers were marching with the convoy which was led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
Chief Minister Khattak was escorted by his official security squad and enjoying full protocol while leading the rally. Two cranes were also escorting the convoy to remove all obstacles on their way.
— Zahir Shah Sherazi reported from Peshawar
PAT march advances
‘Azadi’ march gets green light from govt
The Interior Ministry finally gave permission to PTI to hold rally in Islamabad but not at D Chowk rather near Islamabad Serena Hotel.
Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan has also ordered police and administration to remove containers and entry routes to the federal capital.
The Federal Interior Minister gave orders after visiting various places in Islamabad along with the federal capital police chief, Chief Commissioner and other high-ranking officials.
LHC declares PTI, PAT demands ‘unconstitutional’
The Lahore High Court on Thursday issued its detailed nine-page verdict over the petition filed by a citizen against the marches announced by PTI and PAT and declared the demands put forward by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri were “unconstitutional”.
“We are convinced that demands raised by the chairman PTI and chairman PAT as mentioned in paragraph No1 herein above read with statement of learned counsel for respondent No 4 referred in para No 3 above are in violation of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and as such for resolving the important constitutional issue, we admit this petition for regular hearing.”
The court also observed that leaders and activists of PTI and PAT could face legal action in case the constitution was violated.
Sirajul Haq still playing mediator
Sights and sounds of the PTI march launch
Imran to reach Islamabad in two days?
Head of PTI media, Faisal Vawda tells Dawn the ‘Azadi’ march is likely to reach Islamabad by late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
“Workers have got some provisions for food,” he said via telephone from Islamabad, adding that they have dried fruit and water.
“The media has been reporting that the start in Lahore was slow. I was traveling so cannot verify this, but it has gained momentum since.”
Vawda also said that in the last three hours, the ‘Azadi’ march caravan from Lahore has traveled one kilometer in three hours.
He said that each blockade in the capital has three rows one containers, causing major obstructions.
Nisar inspects security arrangements in Islamabad
Sheikh Rashid hopes for caravans of PTI and PAT to march together
Umeed hy dono march ksi ek jaga jama ho k saath agay barhayga— Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (@ShkhRasheed) August 14, 2014
Qadri allowed to march: Police chief
Tahirul Qadri will be allowed to lead his supporters on an anti-government protest march to the capital, a senior policeman said, reversing an earlier government decision.
Provincial police chief, Inspector General Mushtaq Sukhera, said the ban had now been lifted and a spokesman for Qadri said in a text message that the cleric and his supporters were setting off for Islamabad.
Qadri reveals 'agenda of revolution march'
Imran's container-caravan starts moving
Another photo of Imran flanked by senior PTI leaders as well as AML leader Sheikh Rasheed
PTI chief Imran Khan delivers a speech before leaving
— Photo courtesy PTI media cell
A picture released by the PTI central media cell shows makeshift cubicles made from metal sheets that will be installed at several spots in Lahore and Islamabad where the party administration has set-up toilets.
The PTI is prepared for a drawn-out protest and is marching equipped with food and water supplies.
— Photo courtesy PTI media cell
Yesterday, a photograph released by INP showed commodes being installed in Lahore.
Qadri reveals 'agenda of revolution march'
Before leaving, Qadri said he wants to ‘define’ the goal of his revolution march. Below is a summary of his goals:
Revolution should be green, peaceful and democratic..
It should alleviate poverty
It should practice accountability of leaders to remove corruption
Electoral reforms should take place
Grant social rights to people
It will give no permission for martial law.
Remove terrorism and extremism from this country
Devolution of powers and efficient justice
Protection of minorities
Give rights to women
Qadri's revolution march begins from Model Town
Tahirul Qadri in a press conference outside his Model Town residence said, “The Inquilab march is leaving Model Town for Islamabad. I want to wish the country a happy Independence Day. The revolution march leaving from here will give the constitutional and democratic rights to the downtrodden of this country.
Azadi rally begins march from Lahore
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) ‘Azadi march’ rally departed from Lahore’s Zaman Park area heading towards the federal capital city of Islamabad.
“The success of Azadi march will provide peace and prosperity in the country,” Khan said as he began his move along with thousand of supporters who had gathered outside his Zama Park residence in Lahore.
Freedom is not offered on a plate it has to be snatched, says Imran Khan
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's(PTI) chief Imran Khan delivered a speech to his supporters gathered outside in Lahore during which he said that freedom was never offered on a plate and has to be snatched.
“We will free Pakistan from pharaohs,” Khan added.
Khan was flanked by Sheikh Rashid, Asad Umar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other leaders outside his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
The PTI chief had earlier summoned a meeting of his supporters at his residence just hours before the ‘Azadi march’ announced for today, during which the further plan of action to be taken by the party was discussed.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan poses for a photograph with senior leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Arif Alvi, Shireen Mazari, Jehangir Tareen, Asad Umar,Shafqat Mehmood and Ejaz Chaudhary before heading out. Sheikh Rasheed is also with the group leaving Zaman Park, Lahore.
As Lahore heats up
This Reuters photo shows policemen gathered outside the residence of Imran Khan amidst campaign posters as a man in a green shirt walks through a security gate, Lahore, August 14, 2014.
PTA directed to restore cell phone services in several areas of Islamabad
Subsequently PTA spokesperson Khurram Mehran ordered the cell phone service to be restored in the vicinity.
Earlier on Aug 12, the Interior Ministry had ordered mobile phone and wireless internet services to be shut down in several parts of Islamabad for an indefinite period, to avoid any untoward incident and security threats during independence day celebrations.
— Irfan Haider reported from Islamabad
No permission given to PTI over protest sit-in: interior ministry spokesman
Rejecting rumours that the Interior Ministry had granted the PTI permission to hold a sit-in in Islamabad, Mujeeb Qadir Khokhar, a spokesman for the ministry, said that was not the case.
“The ministry has granted no such permission to the PTI,” Khokhar said.
Moreover, Malik Najeeb, a superintendent in the Islamabad deputy commissioner’s office said no such directive had been received by the administration. — Reported by Irfan Haider
Imran Khan on 'Azadi' march
Today will be the beginning of the end of despots & monarchs, InshaAllah. True democracy means true freedom.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 14, 2014
Freedom can only be won thru struggle;it is not handed on a platter. Today is decisive to liberate ourselves.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 14, 2014
How Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport looks today
— Photos provided by Irfan Haider
PTI, PAT marchers in Lahore
PTI will begin its march from Lahore’s Zaman Park whereas PAT is expected to launch its march from the residence of Dr Tahirul Qadri in Model Town. Both parties were scheduled to begin their march at 10 am and then go on towards Islamabad.
A large contingent of security forces was expected to move along the marchers to ensure their safety.
Furthermore, mobile phone jammers have been installed in a number of locations in Lahore.
Meanwhile, the Faizabad Interchange that connects the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad has been sealed with containers and additional contingents of police have been deployed there.
The measures have been taken in order to manage any untoward situation. — Reported by Shiraz Hasnat and Shakeel Qarar
Protests to be held in all areas of Islamabad except Red Zone: Ghulam Sarwar Khan
PTI’s Ghulam Sarwar Khan has said that the party leadership has directed all activists to get to Islamabad come what may.
Khan, who is a senior PTI leader from the party’s Rawalpindi division, added that activists and supporters would protest and stage their sit-ins in all areas of Islamabad except for the Red Zone.
Ghulam Sarwar Khan had contested the election against PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in May 2013 and had emerged victorious. — Reported by Irfan Haider
PPP's Jehangir Bader criticises Shahbaz Sharif
CM Punjab sieged the city of Lahore & speaking to celebrate the freedoms of Independent Day. What a contradiction to be recorded in history.— Dr Jehangir Bader (@JehangirBader) August 14, 2014
The word in Islamabad
Good morning from the Container Capital of the world. pic.twitter.com/WNKJgx4Kez— Murtaza Solangi (@murtazasolangi) August 14, 2014
#Overheard : I am going to celebrate some independence and try to jump over one of the containers to get some breakfast.— Iftikhar Firdous (@IftikharFirdous) August 14, 2014
FC being deployed in Islamabad's Red Zone
Security around Islamabad's Red Zone area is being tightened and the administration has deployed FC personnel in the locality.
More containers are being set up in the area to ensure it remains impenetrable.
Moreover, unconfirmed reports say PTI has apprised the Islamabad administration of the location where the party wants to hold its sit-in.
President Mamnoon hoists national flag
President Mamnoon Hussain hoisted the national flag at the Independence Day ceremony in the Presidency.
The president was flanked by Prime Minister Nawaz and army chief Raheel Sharif was also present on the occasion.
During the ceremony, a one-minute silence was observed by those in attendance to pay tribute to soldiers who died in the Zarb-i-Azb operation.
Punjab Home department extends Section 144 in province
The Punjab Home department has extended the implementation of Section 144 in the province to August 18.
Under a notification issued by the provincial government, not more than four people can congregate at a public spot.
The development comes as thousands of PTI activists and supporters are present in Lahore's Zaman Park and a number of convoys of party members and sympathisers have come in from different cities.
— Reported by Shiraz Hasnat and Nadeem Haider
PTI’s Sialkot members en route to Lahore to join Imran
PTI members and supporters from Sialkot had taken on the road to Lahore where they will join the larger group of party activists which will move towards the capital.
The march from Sialkot commenced from the Jinnah House and is being led by PTI leaders Usman Dar, Ajmal Cheema, Akmal Cheema, Tariq Butt and Asjad Malhi.
Speaking to DawnNews, Dar said protesters would partake in the march despite all the barriers that had been erected by the government and the march would translate into real freedom for the people.