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‘Azadi March’ live updates: Imran Khan’s convoy enters Punjab as protesters try to wriggle out of roadblocks

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Tension gripped parts of the country, as police clashed with Pakistan PTI workers after authorities tried to block them from proceedings towards the capital, where former prime minister Imran Khan plans to hold a large political rally.

Khan is heading to Islamabad from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a large caravan to demand the removal of the government and an immediate national election. He vows to hold the “biggest march” in the political history of Pakistan if the government does not agree to his demands. According to the latest update, Khan’s caravan has entered Punjab after supporters removed barricades from the Attock bridge.

Earlier today, following the directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the two sides also engaged in a two-hour dialogue, but no breakthrough could be reached, reported Geo News.

However, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb has denied reports of an agreement between the federal government and the PTI, calling the news “baseless”. 

Meanwhile, Senator Faisal Javed also confirmed that no agreement has been reached. 

Throughout the day, scuffles continue to break out in parts of Lahore, Punjab, between the police and the political workers, leading to the arrest of a few PTI leaders in the city.

In the meantime, law enforcement agencies are also on high alert under instructions from the government to take “all possible measures” to stop the PTI’s ‘Azadi March’ from proceeding. 

SC orders govt to provide PTI with a ground for jalsa

The Supreme Court directed the federal government to provide the PTI with the ground between the H-9 and G-9 areas of Islamabad to hold its public gathering.

When the hearing resumed after a break, the attorney-general told the three-member bench that the ground, which will be given to the PTI, only had the capacity to accommodate 10,000 people.

He also added that a Sunday bazaar and the Sirinigar Highway were close to the venue.

Hammad Azhar sustain injuries

Amid the shelling, former energy minister Hammad Azhar was also injured and was provided with basic medical treatment at a rural health clinic.

Taking to his official Twitter handle, the senior PTI leader recorded a video message claiming that the police have now resorted to direct attacks.

Earlier, in order to restrain Lahore’s rally from entering Islamabad, the police tried to arrest Azhar; however, party workers managed to save him.

Police arrested the district president of PTI Ali Asjad Malhi, among other party workers from Sialkot. The authorities managed to disperse the workers with the help of tear gas.

On his Twitter handle, Azhar wrote: “Heavy shelling on our rally near Kala Shah Kaku. But we will InshAllah overcome this obstacle too.”

The PTI leader had confirmed that failed attempts were being made for his arrest. He had also reported that the police have abused the workers and hundreds of shells had been fired.

Keep routes to hospitals open: interior minister

Amid the ongoing clashes in the federal capital, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had directed the Islamabad police and administration to allow all government employees on duty to enter the federal capital. Meanwhile, he said media persons shouldn’t be stopped and routes heading towards hospitals should remain open.

In a statement, the interior minister said that the government will not tolerate terrorism in the guise of politics as police seized a huge cache of weapons from the residence of PTI leader in the provincial capital of Punjab ahead of their long march.

“The seizure of heavy arms and ammunition from the houses of PTI officials is evidence of a bloody march”, the federal minister had said.

The federal minister said that the PTI general secretary’s house is a depot of ammunition and the discovery of arms from the homes of PTI officials is proof of a bloody march. The nation has seen that from where did the bullet came which killed innocent police personnel.

“The constitution and the law will be strictly enforced and those who will take the law into their hands will be dealt with strictly,” he warned.

Meanwhile, after various attempts to arrest PTI leaders, Lahore police briefly detained Yasmeen Rashid and Andaleeb Abbasi. Both leaders were taken into custody as PTI workers tried to stop the law enforcers. They were, however, later released.

At Lahore’s Batti Chowk, the police resorted to tear gas shelling to disperse PTI workers when they removed barriers placed to block the routes.

The PTI’s Lahore chapter had asked its workers to gather at the Batti Chowk today from where they were to depart for Islamabad.

Images from the scuffle between police and PTI workers at Batti Chowk in Lahore. — Screengrabs
Images from the scuffle between police and PTI workers at Batti Chowk in Lahore. — Screengrabs

The party workers gathered at the intersection and clashed with the police when they removed barriers after which the police fired tear gas shells in order to clear the area.

Arrests so far

The police have so far arrested more than 10 PTI workers from Batti Chowk; meanwhile, police confirmed that some marchers have also been arrested from the Srinagar Highway. PTI workers have also been arrested from D-Chowk.

A senior police officer, on condition of anonymity, told Geo.tv, on condition of anonymity, that 212 PTI workers arrested so far in Lahore.

In a press conference, DIG Operations Lahore Sohail Chaudhry said that in the last few days the police had information that weapons were being brought to Lahore, which could be used to disturb the peace.

The senior cop said the police chased five cars near the motorway and then raided the home of Zubair Niazi, the PTI general secretary in Lahore. “At his home we found weapons. It seems apparent they were planning to use these weapons in the march,” he adds.

Meanwhile, police have arrested a total of nine PTI workers from Numaish Chowrangi, including three women.

Police attack Yasmeen Rashid’s car

Former health minister Yasmeen Rashid heads toward Islamabad after police attack on her car. — Twitter/@PTIofficial
Former health minister Yasmeen Rashid heads toward Islamabad after police attack on her car. — Twitter/@PTIofficial

The police attacked former health minister Yasmeen Rashid’s car, breaking her windscreen in an attempt to stop her from moving forward.

According to footage circulating on social media, the police used batons to stop her; however, the car continued to move ahead despite losing balance.

Earlier, the police had encircled her car when a PTI supporter came forward and verbally abused the officials. Meanwhile, Yasmeen tried stopping the police from taking away her car keys.

Meanwhile, Rashid in a statement, confirmed that the windshield of her vehicle was broken by the police. She said that she faced difficulty in leaving the area, but is now on the way to Islamabad.

“This government has lost its senses. I am an 80-year-old woman. Why are they threatening me? How is stopping a peaceful protest democratic?” she questioned.

Rashid added that despite everything, the enthusiasm of the workers was better than ever.

‘No chance of deal with govt’: Imran Khan

PTI Chairman Imran Khan leads the rally toward Islamabad on a container with other senior leaders of the party. — Twitter/@PTIofficial
PTI Chairman Imran Khan leads the rally toward Islamabad on a container with other senior leaders of the party. — Twitter/@PTIofficial

After reaching Swabi, PTI Chairman Imran Khan addressed the people heading toward the federal capital. In it, he denied all reports of striking an agreement with the government. “We are heading towards Islamabad and there is no chance of settling an agreement with the coalition government.”

“We will stay in Islamabad until the government decided to dissolve assemblies and announces election dates,” he reiterated, adding that they will reach D-Chowk and no hurdle can stop them.

Speaking to a charged crowd, he called the incumbent government a “group of American slaves”. The former prime minister acknowledged that his party workers and leaders were being arrested across the country, while several others were being harassed.

‘Our protest will remain peaceful like always’

Imran maintained that staging a protest was the party’s right, adding that he would unite the country and make it a nation.

“All Pakistanis, women, children, families, youth, lawyers, retired army officers, everyone has to come out for real independence,” he said.

The PTI chairman had earlier announced to lead the march from Wali interchange, where he landed in a helicopter. In a video message recorded before leaving the former prime minister said: “This is a decisive moment for Pakistan.”

Urging the people to join him in the “Azadi March” he had assured his supporters that PTI will snatch its freedom.

Khan had urged people to carry the Pakistan flag along with them as this is the fight for “real freedom.”

Govt reportedly plans to detain Imran Khan 

The federal government is reportedly planning to detain the party chairman Imran Khan and his associates on their way from Peshawar despite the government’s decision to disallow a long march.

The News reported a top security official as saying that the action will be taken in a bid to stop what Imran Khan is saying will be the “biggest procession” in Pakistan’s history.

On Tuesday, the government decided to use all its force to foil PTI’s “Azadi March”, with the police continuing its crackdown against PTI workers and officials. Section 144 has been imposed in Lahore, Karachi and the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and the roads leading up to the capital city from different parts of the country have been blocked.

Islamabad braces for closure

Shipping containers used to block the area leading towards the Red Zone are seen ahead of the planned protest march by ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Islamabad, on Tuesday. — Reuters
Shipping containers used to block the area leading towards the Red Zone are seen ahead of the planned protest march by ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Islamabad, on Tuesday. — Reuters

The local authorities have barricaded all entry points into Islamabad with heavy shipping containers to obstruct the way of PTI marchers.

The barricades have been placed for two primary tasks: first to contain the long march and second to ensure fool-proof security of the Red Zone. All the roads leading to Red Zone have been sealed, except Margalla Road. Containers have also been placed at D-Chowk to seal the area around the Old Parade Ground and Parliamentary Lodges.

Thousands of policemen, including the Anti-Riot Unit, Counter-Terrorism Force, Anti-Terrorism Force, and police reserve along with contingents from Rangers are being deployed to maintain the law and order situation in the city.

GT Road, Motorway blocked to stop long march

Meanwhile, barriers have been erected at several points on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road and Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway as well. The authorities have blocked all the land routes between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab by putting huge piles of mud, containers, ballast stones, cement blocks and iron barriers and fences in many places.

Heavy contingents of the personnel of stick-wielding police force and Rangers have also been deputed at GT Road and Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway to stop the way of PTI workers towards Islamabad.

Roads blocked in Karachi

Meanwhile, PTI supporters from Karachi are expected to stage demonstrations at Numaish Chowrangi; however, according to the police, preparations have been completed to stop them.

Two prisoner vans have been kept on standby in case of possible arrests. While lady cops have also reached the site.

According to traffic police, MA Jinnah road and its adjoining areas have been blocked. Amid roads that have been blocked include:

  • The road leading toward People’s Chowrangi from Numaish Chowarnagi
  • Corridor 3 New Preedy Street from Saddar Dawakhana road leading towards People Chowrangi
  • Nizami Road (heading from Lines areas to Numaish Chowarngi ) has also been blocked
  • The road leading towards Numaish Chowrangi from Capri Cinema has been closed; traffic is being directed toward Soldier Bazar.
  • Traffic heading from Society Signal toward Numaish Chowrangi is being diverted to Kashmir Road

Islamabad Police issues traffic plan

‘Azadi March’ live updates: Imran Khans convoy enters Punjab as protesters try to wriggle out of roadblocks

The traffic police have issued a traffic plan to facilitate the public. According to an official update, entry and exit points to the Red Zone have been closed at Ayub chowk, NADRA chowk, Express chowk, and Serena chowk. 

Those who wish to enter or exit the red zone can only use Margalla road.

  • Ataturk Avenue has been closed from Nazimud Deen T-Cross to Geo Chowk
  • Nazimud Deen Road has been closed from Zoom petrol pump to Ataturk Avenue
  • Jinnah Avenue has been blocked from China Chowk to Express Chowk
  • Murree Road is blocked for both sides of traffic towards Faizabad from Rawalpindi
  • Islamabad Expressway has been closed for incoming traffic to Islamabad at the Gulberg Green Bridge

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The IHC upholds Bushra Bibi’s request to be transferred from Bani Gala to Adiala Jail.

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Bushra Bibi’s request to be transferred from Bani Gala to Adiala Jail was granted by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday.

The former first lady Bushra Bibi’s application to be transferred from Bani Gala sub-jail to Adiala was heard today.

Details reveal that the Islamabad High Court heard a motion to restore the denied petition about the relocation of Bushra Bibi, the wife of PTI founder, from sub-jail Bani Gala to Adiala.

The application for the reinstatement of appeal was heard by Justice Miagul Hassan Aurangzeb. When state attorney Abdul Rehman entered the courtroom on behalf of the state, Usman Riaz Gill represented the former first lady.

State counsel did not object to the appeal being restored during court proceedings. At the following hearing, the court asked for assistance in determining what conditions must be met for a location to be designated as a sub-jail.

The court also mandated that Bushra Bibi’s medical examination be scheduled. The court subsequently delayed the hearing and gave instructions to fix the appeal for April 22.

Recall that the attorneys for former first lady Bushra Bibi, Barrister Salman Safdar, Usman Riaz Gill, and Khalid Yusuf Chaudhary, had filed an application to restore the dismissed appeal a day ago, but the Islamabad High Court had denied their request to pursue the case.

The petition contended that the traffic gridlock at the Sarina Chowk checkpoint was the reason for the delay in getting to the court.

The attorneys did not purposefully take their time getting to court. They warned that the petitioner would suffer irreversible loss if the petition was not resurrected.

IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb has voiced his displeasure at the absence of attorneys from the court.

According to Judge Aurangzeb, the former first lady would have been imprisoned if Bushra Bibi’s attorneys had prevailed in this case. The attorneys themselves were opposed to Bushra Bibi’s incarceration.

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oath-taking ceremony for the Balochistan cabinet postponed

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The Balochistan cabinet’s oath-taking ceremony, which was supposed to take place at the Governor’s House today (Thursday), has been rescheduled.
The Governor’s House spokeswoman announced that the Balochistan cabinet’s swearing-in event has been postponed. Nevertheless, there was no explanation provided for the ceremony’s postponement.

It is important to note that the 14-member Balochistan cabinet, which consists of two members from the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and six ministers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was set to take the oath of office today, Thursday.

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PMD forecasts rain throughout the majority of the nation.

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During the next 24 hours (Thursday–Friday), the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has predicted rain, windstorms, thunderstorms, and a few torrential downpours or hailstorms throughout the majority of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir, Islamabad, Punjab, and Balochistan.

In several areas of Sindh, a rain-windstorm/thunderstorm is anticipated. Much of Balochistan is being hit by a powerful westerly wave trough, which is expected to spread to the top regions by April 18.

Prolonged downpours have the potential to cause flash flooding in Balochistani local streams and drains, particularly in Gwadar, Jiwani, Pasni, Ormara, Kech, Awaran, Kharan, Panjgur, Washuk, Noshki, Lasbela, Khuzdar, and Kalat.

On April 18–20, heavy rains could cause flash floods in tributaries of the Kabul River as well as in Dir, Swat, Chitral, Kohistan, Manshera, Gilgit–Baltistan, Kashmir, and other areas.

Lower Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Murree, Galiyat, Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan are among the regions where landslides may occur.

At this time, standing crops, power poles, cars, solar panels, and other objects may sustain damage from wind, hail, and lightning, according to meteorologists.

Upper Sindh and Balochistan saw rain, wind, and thunderstorms in the past 24 hours. During the era, there were also significant rainfalls in South Balochistan. Wednesday’s highs of 42 degrees Celsius in Mithi kept it as the country’s hottest spot.

Officials reported that lightning-related storm-related occurrences claimed the lives of at least 65 people in Pakistan, where the rate of precipitation in April has so far been roughly twice that of previous years. Floods and house collapses were caused by heavy downpours that occurred between Friday and Monday. Lightning claimed 28 lives.

32 people, including 15 children, have killed and over 1,300 homes have been damaged in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which has suffered the greatest victim count.

The meteorological experts report that there is little probability of rain, despite the fact that drizzle fell in numerous areas of Karachi.

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