Islamabad, May 25 (EFE).- Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to hold a protest rally in Islamabad after the government refused permission to do so on security grounds that led to clashes across the country.
Khan’s party reached out to the court for permission to hold what he described as the “Real Freedom March,” after the government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif cracked down on protesters resulting in ongoing clashes between PTI members and the law enforcement authorities in different cities throughout the day.
“The court has allowed PTI to hold the rally and also directed the government to remove barriers and release all the detained workers except those who have serious charges against them,” Muhammed Ishtiaq, a judicial official, told EFE.
Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote last month after some of his own party lawmakers and coalition partners withdrew support to his government.
After a series of big rallies across the country, Khan urged his supporters on Sunday to march to Islamabad.
Khan was expected to reach the capital on Wednesday, where he has promised to stay put until the government is dissolved and a date for fresh elections is announced.
The police fired teargas, baton-charged and arrested hundreds of supporters of Khan to stop them from reaching Islamabad from different towns and cities to participate in in the protest march.
The government said it did not allow Khan’s party to hold a rally over fears that they would enter the Red Zone, which houses foreign embassies and missions. The highly sensitive area has been sealed with heavy containers on all entry or exit points.
“In total, there were 4,414 raids across Punjab in which a total 1,700 people were arrested,” Interior Minister Rana SanaUllah said in a press conference on Wednesday.
The minister said out of the detained workers, 250 were released after they submitted affidavits mentioning they had nothing to do with the march.
Heavy contingents of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed across the streets of Islamabad to deal with the protesters.
Normal life in the city was disrupted with road blockades, while schools remained closed during the day.
TV footage showed security forces throwing teargas shells at the protesters and beating them with batons, while other uniformed and plainclothes policemen were seen breaking the windscreens of private vehicles.
“We have no information about how many policemen or civilians got injured today,” Muhammed Bashir, a police official at the control room in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province and epicenter of the clashes, told EFE.
The government has blocked highways leading to Islamabad and roads in major cities including the capital and Lahore.
“No amount of state oppression and fascism by this imported govt can stop or deter our march,” Khan tweeted.
In his demand for fresh elections, Khan is leading a march of thousands of supporters from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where his party is in the government, towards Islamabad.
Khan claimed the United States was behind the him being ousted from power following his visit to Moscow on the day Russia invaded Ukraine. Washington has denied these allegations. EFE