Islamabad: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has called off his most anticipated long march, giving a six-day ultimatum to government to dissolve assemblies and announce elections.
While addressing the participants of the ‘Azadi March’ at Jinnah Avenue, Imran Khan said he had reached Islamabad after 30 hours of travelling from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).
He warned the government that if announcement of elections will not be made, he will return to Islamabad-- demanding assemblies be dissolved forthwith.
Khan and the top party leaders left the container soon after the speech while the party workers managed to enter the Red Zone despite heavy security.
Before the arrival of PTI Chairman Imran Khan at the designated area, the PTI MNAs and workers gathered at D-Chowk where a clash broke out between them and anti-riot police and law-enforcement agencies.
Police baton-charged and tear-gased the protesters.
The D-Chowk turned to a battle field between the Islamabad police and the PTI leaders and activists on early Thursday.
PTI MNA Zartaj Gul got fainted. Many women and children got affected by tear gas shelling.
Some officials of police and Rangers also suffered injuries in clashes. The protesters set some trees and vehicles ablaze.
In a statement released on Twitter, the police noted that when the fire bigrade doused the blazes, the protestors once again set fire the Express Chowrangi on fire.
Since being removed from power through a no-confidence vote in April, the cricketer-turned politician heaped pressure on the Pakistan's fragile new coalition rulers by staging mass rallies, touting a claim he was turned out from office in a "foreign conspiracy".
In a centrepiece showdown with his rivals, Khan had called for supporters of his party to gather in Islamabad and stage a sit-in until fresh elections are called.
The government headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has pledged to stop the convoy from entering the city, calling the rally an attempt to "divide the nation and promote chaos".
All major roads surrounding Islamabad, where a heavy security presence is in place, were blocked off with shipping containers while entry and exit points of major nearby cities were also cut off.
Sporadic clashes broke out between police and protesters who have tried to clear the roads, with tear gas fired in several cities.
Khan joined the march in dramatic fashion, arriving in a helicopter that touched down on a motorway clogged with supporters outside the city of Mardan.
The convoy later crossed a bridge that straddles PTI-run Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and government-run Punjab province, where shipping containers blocking the route were pushed to the side of the road by protesters.
Earlier, soldiers were dpeloyed at the Prime Minister's Office and the Parliament to avoid any untoward incident in the wake of PTI's long march and presence of charged workers.
"Pakistan Army has been called in for the security of government’s offices located in the Red Zone," the notification read.
As the situation turned chaotic after the police clashed with the PTI workers ahead of former prime minister Imran Khan's political rally in Islamabad, the government has sought the help of the army to control the situation.
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