• Protesters pushed back into Pindi, tear gas used to disperse them • PTI MNA, two police guards arrested after firing outside ECP
ISLAMABAD: The disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief, Imran Khan, in the Toshakhana case sparked protests in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, especially at Faizabad, resulting in the arrest of three people – a PTI lawmaker and his two police guards.
The clash between the protesters and police started outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Constitution Avenue soon after the verdict disqualifying Imran Khan when the KP police guard of MNA Saleh Mohammad fired a gunshot.
The capital police deployed at the scene arrested the MNA and the police guard along with his colleague, said a police spokesperson. PML-N MNA Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha also lodged a complaint alleging that the shot fired by the KP policeman was “an attempt on his life” allegedly at the behest of Imran Khan.
In Faizabad, Tramri and Athal Chowk, the police fired teargas shells and resorted to baton-charge to disperse the protesters who pelted the law enforcers with stones and set tyres on fire to register their anger against the ECP decision.
In a bid to contain the protests, at least 1,168 officials, including 654 Frontier Constabulary personnel, were deployed at different locations, including Red Zone and Faizabad, to maintain law and order during and after the announcement of the Toshakhana case, the police officials said. They added that Rangers and FC along with police were moved to different spots after the protests erupted.
PTI supporters blocked Srinagar Highway near G-13 and also staged a protest in Sohan and Bhara Kahu. In Faizabad, police used tear gas to disperse protesters and thick smoke clouds of the toxic gas could be seen from far away. As a result of clashes, hundreds of residents remained trapped between police and protesters at Faizabad and its surrounding areas.
Protests in Rawalpindi
In Rawalpindi, the Punjab police, which had been put on high alert, deployed obstructions near Shamsabad to prevent vehicular movement towards Faizabad – the site of clashes between the Islamabad police and the PTI supporters.
Although the Pindi police are under the PTI’s Punjab government, they had been put on high alert before the ECP announced the decision.
The police were placed on alert to avert any untoward incident in the city which largely remained peaceful – except for the Faizabad junction.
In other parts of the garrison city, traffic on G.T. Road near Gujar Khan remained suspended due to the protesters who set tyres on fire to protest the disqualification of Imran Khan. Some PTI activists appeared in Jhika Gali to register their protest.
As a result of protests, traffic jams were witnessed on main roads across the twin cities, compounding the miseries of the business community and other citizens who were caught between the police and the protesters.
The protesters blocked Islamabad Expressway near Rawat whereas traffic movement was also suspended from Faizabad to Murree Road due to the demonstrations. Athaal Chowk and Bhara Kahu had also been blocked for traffic.
A spokesperson for the City Traffic Police Rawalpindi said the roads in the city were opened for traffic but due to the situation in Islamabad, traffic was moving slowly which was resulting in jams.
Due to the protests, the Metro Bus Service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad also remained suspended.
Published in Dawn, October 22th, 2022