PTI's Azadi March to kick off today

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists and supporters are also set to participate in their 'Haqeeqi Azadi March' on the capital seeking fresh elections.

The march will commence from Lahore's Liberty Chowk.

 Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid said he would be joining the march today as well, and expressed optimism that "the nation will come out" and that "an election date would be acquired".

چاروں طرف عمران خان کی حکومت ہے انشاء اللہ الیکشن کی تاریخ ملے گی، شیخ رشید#حقیقی_آزادی_مارچ
— PTI Sargodha Official (@PtiOfficialSGD) October 28, 2022

PTI leader Hammad Azhar shared that he was already making his way to the meeting point.

Leaving for liberty chowk from my constituency.
— Hammad Azhar (@Hammad_Azhar) October 28, 2022

Supporters could be seen riding with him on their motorcycles carrying party flags.

لبرٹی چوک کی طرف گامزن۔@Hammad_Azhar #حقیقی_آزادی_مارچ
— PTI (@PTIofficial) October 28, 2022

Meanwhile, Yasmeen Rashid was also seen rallying support ahead of the march.

The Iron lady Dr.Yasmeen Rashid is ready for Haqiqi Azadi long March. #حقیقی_آزادی_مارچ
— PTI Rwp Official (@PTIOfficialRWP) October 28, 2022

She is reportedly also making her way to Liberty.

ہماری بہادر آئرن لیڈی کے ہمراہ ایک کثیر تعداد لبرٹی چوک روانہ #حقیقی_آزادی_مارچ
— Hina Abbasi (@illusionisthina) October 28, 2022

Interior Minister warns of 'strict action'

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah while speaking to the media in islamabad said that the government was prepared to deal with anyone attempting to break the law with an iron fist.

Warning protestors of "strict action", Sanaullah said "if they [protestors] abide by the law, we will facilitate them.

It may also be noted that during a hearing at the Supreme Court (SC) over the PTI's May 25 March, the CJP had said that the march was the party’s political strategy, and everyone had the right to protest, but not be violent or damage public property. He had added that the government had the authority to take action against the violation of law.

Acknowledging the SC's orders, Sanaullah said that the government would abide by the law, but added that democracy would be compromised if "mob culture" was allowed to continue to grow in the country.

The Interior Minister on Thursday had said the PTI could stage its long march at the federal capital’s sectors H-9 and G-9 allocated by courts but its participants were restricted from entering the Red Zone, which would be protected by Rangers and Pak Army personnel.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, the minister had added that the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration had received the application about the PTI’s long march and it was reviewing it.

Sanaullah had said the PTI had sought permission for public gatherings and a sit-in at a suitable place on November 4, 2022, and could be only allowed at places allocated by courts.

Read More ISI chief speaks publicly on political crisis

He had added that in case of any unrest, the participants of the long march would be stopped at the entry points of Islamabad as the requisite number of personnel had been provided by Rangers, Frontier Corps as well as Sindh and Islamabad police for the security of the federal capital.

The minister made it clear that the participants would not be allowed to enter the Red Zone.

“Most of the buildings in the Red Zone are symbols of State and Article 245 has also been invoked. The Rangers and Pak Army personnel would perform duty there,” he added.

Security preparations

Meanwhile, political tension is growing in the country as Islamabad was put on high alert after former prime minister Imran Khan had on Tuesday announced to hold the long march, demanding the government call fresh general elections.

The government has also started preparations to deploy thousands of security personnel to block Imran's supporters from entering the capital.

According to officials, the interior ministry has already decided to deploy around 30,000 police, rangers, and para-military troops in Islamabad and not allow protesters to enter the red-zone area near the parliament building.

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President’s House, Prime Minister's House, ministers’ offices, parliament, and other important buildings, including foreign embassies, are located in the red-zone area.

With forces about to roll into Islamabad and the government on an anxious vigil, the scenario had cast the nation’s capital back to a familiar state of affairs witnessed on the eve of PTI’s May 25 long march that saw intense showdown and crackdown.

According to a notice issued by the interior ministry on Wednesday, the Islamabad police have completed their preparation for the long march.

The notice stated that a total of 13,086 officers, including two deputy inspector generals of police, four senior superintendents of police and 11 superintendents of police will be posted at the long march venue. Thirty assistant superintendents of police and deputy superintendents of police will also be posted.

Moreover, 4,265 Frontier Corps officers, 3,600 Rangers personnel and 1,022 policemen from the Sindh police will be on duty during the march.

The authorities had also sent hundreds of containers into Islamabad to barricade all entry points before the arrival of demonstrators.

The officers will be provided 616 tear gas guns, 50,050 shells, 611 twelve-bore guns and 36,700 rounds. Likewise, 2,430 masks and 374 vehicles will also be given to the police.

All police officers and personnel have been instructed to remain unarmed.

Furthermore, on the direction of the interior ministry, the Pakistan Railways (PR) prepared a list of 400 railway police personnel to thwart the long march.

The ministry had asked for a force of 2,000 personnel from the railway police authorities, sources said but added that due to the lack of enough personnel, only 400 personnel from all eight divisions of the railways could be gathered.

March plan

The march’s commencement date was announced on Tuesday by Imran. “We will gather at Liberty Chowk at 11am on Friday, and set off for Islamabad,” he had said.

“We will stay peaceful. If any disruption comes, it would be from the other side, not ours. We are aiming for soft revolution. We are not going to Islamabad to create any mischief,” Imran assured, adding that despite all his peaceful intentions he was ready for arrest as well.

حقیقی آزادی مارچ– لاہور تا اسلام آباد روانگی پلان: #حقیقی_آزادی_مارچ
— PTI (@PTIofficial) October 27, 2022

According to the party’s plans, the march will commence from Lahore’s Liberty Chowk on Friday (today) and will reach Rawat by November 3, where the leadership will decide on the next course of action. The first priority of the party would be to hold a public rally, whereas the second priority would be to turn the protest into a sit-in.

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