Pak set for raging street battles

Government plans to deploy 22,000 policemen, including 2,000 rangers, 8,000 Punjab police, 2,000 anti-riot police, 500 women police, 5,000 FC and 2,000 Sindh police…writes Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha

The Pakistani government led by Shehbaz Sharif has decided to stop former ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s “Long March” to Islamabad scheduled for May 25. The government has also rejected Khan’s demand for snap polls and decided to complete its tenure.

According to Pakistani watchers, Premier Sharif had consulted his elder brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday and the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif , who heads the PML-N, told his brother that the people of the country cannot be left at the “mercy of a group of miscreants”.

“The people cannot be left at the mercy of a group of miscreants who have already brought unimaginable poverty, inflation, and unemployment to them. Pakistan cannot reach its true destination without countering these elements. We have to stop these miscreants as a nation,” tweeted the former prime minister after attending an emergency meeting with leaders of his party PML-N.

The Pakistani government warned Imran against holding the long march.

“The law will take its own course against any kind of violence or provocation and the Supreme Court’s order regarding the sit-in will be implemented,” said the Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.

Pic credits ANI

Government plans to deploy 22,000 policemen, including 2,000 rangers, 8,000 Punjab police, 2,000 anti-riot police, 500 women police, 5,000 FC and 2,000 Sindh police. Administration has also requested for 100 prisoner vans. A video shared on Twitter shows movement of army trucks towards Islamabad on Srinagar Highway. One journalist @junaid_4Pak has tweeted that interior minister Sanaullah has finalised the plan to handle the march by Khan’s Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), including the possible deployment of 111 Brigade.

Earlier on Monday, the Sharif government had arrested senior leaders of PTI. However, former information minister Chaudhry Fawad Khan tweeted that he had managed to escape when police came to his house to arrest.

The residence of former interior minister Sheikh Rashid, the Lal Haveli, has also been reportedly raided.

Many lesser-known second rung PTI leaders have also reportedly been targeted in the crackdown. These included Rashida Khanum, MPA Punjab; Abdullah Awan, PTI Vice President in Gujjar Khan; Rana Muhammad Fahim; PTI’s Sahiwal district president, Rana Aftab; Rehan bin Javed, PTI leader in Bahawalpur, to name a few. The house of one Maj. (Retd.) Sajid Bukhari, a PTI activist based in Lahore, was also raided during which a weapon was fired from inside the house resulting in death of a police constable.

Pro-Imran Khan protests in Pakistan.(photo:@PTIofficial)

Taking to Twitter, the ousted prime minister Imran Khan warned the incumbent government that ‘these fascist steps will further exacerbate the economic situation and push the country into anarchy.

“I want to warn the crooks & their handlers that these undemocratic & fascist steps will further exacerbate the economic situation & push the country into a state of anarchy,” wrote Imran Khan on Twitter.

“It also raises serious questions about crackdown handlers.” Khan raised the question about “handler”, a reference to Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The capital city of Islamabad has turned into an army guarded fortress. containers have been placed on all roads leading to Islamabad.

Imran Khan has instructed all cadres and leaders to make video recordings of police raids and share them on the internet. A list with contact numbers of lawyers has also been circulated whom the affected can approach. Khan said that “I have been threatened but I am not afraid of these threats.”

Khan asked his party workers to be ready for the May 25 march. He dubbed it as a move to ensure Pakistan’s political and foreign policy matters are guarded against external interventions.

Imran Khan also asked the Pakistani army chief General Bajwa to stick to its stated stance of being neutral. “I also say to my army that you said you are neutral so now remain neutral,” he said, adding, however, “I want to invite everyone to the march, including the families of civil servants, army personnel, and ex-servicemen,” The Dawn reported.

The former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has asked the personnel of the army and the police that there is no government in the country at present.

Qureshi asked the officers not to obey the government’s orders.

Despite the verbal attack on the army, the hashtag #NoArmyNoPakistan trending in support of the military.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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