Amid a protest called by former Pakistan prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan to demand fresh elections, protesters set fire to a metro station near China Chowk in Islamabad on Wednesday. Party people were arrested in the wee hours of Thursday as Khan flagged off the march towards Islamabad.
There was a huge traffic gridlock when thousands of PTI supporters arrived in Pakistan's capital late at night following which clashes broke out between Khan's supporters and the police. Local authorities tried to block them from moving toward D-Chowk in Islamabad after Khan warned his supporters would not vacate the area until a date for fresh polls was announced by the Shehbaz Sharif government. Protesters set fire to trees and vehicles.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="ur" dir="rtl">اسلام آباد چائنہ چوک کے قریب میٹرو اسٹیشن کو پی ٹی آئی کے ورکرز نے آگ لگا دی <a href="https://t.co/OA89CNlGLu">pic.twitter.com/OA89CNlGLu</a></p>— Ihtesham Afghan (@IhteshamAfghan) <a href="https://twitter.com/IhteshamAfghan/status/1529538877509316609?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 25, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Taking to Twitter, Pakistan Police said that after the fire bigrade put out the fires, the protestors set fire to the Express Chowrangi again.
Khan's call for a 'peaceful' march came after Pakistan's Supreme Court directed authorities to allow the protest rally in the national capital and restrained them from arresting the cricketer-turned-politician.
According to reports, several women and children were reportedly injured in the police firing in Lahore's Liberty Chowk area.
PTI's official account tweeted, "Tremendous effort by the people of Pakistan to save their lives!! What an inning are they playing MashaAllah, Allah ap logo ko salamat rkhey."
Tremendous effort by the people of Pakistan to save their lives!! What an inning are they playing MashaAllah, Allah ap logo ko salamat rkhey!! #حقیقی_آزادی_مارچ— Madiha Khan (@Madiha51781910) May 25, 2022
Following the clashes, Shehbaz Sharif's government has called for the protection of the Red Zone. “Pursuant to the law and order situation in the Islamabad Capital Territory, the Federal Government, in the exercise of powers conferred under Article 245 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, authorises the deployment of sufficient strength of troops of Pakistan Army,” Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said in a government order posted on Twitter.
The federal government has decided not to allow PTI to hold its long march towards Islamabad and participants of the long march will be stopped. The cabinet has decided not to let PTI go ahead with its long march to avoid the spread of "Fitna" and "Fasad".— Rana SanaUllah Khan (@RanaSanaullahPK) May 24, 2022
Media reports claim that PTI workers have revealed that the police used 'expired' tear gas on the protesters.
Khan ousted as the PM
On April 9, 2022, Pakistan’s political opposition had toppled former prime minister Imran Khan in a no-confidence vote in Parliament after several political allies and a key party in his ruling coalition deserted him.
The opposition, which spans the political spectrum from leftists to religious radicals, eventually form a new government. The head of one of the largest parties, a brother of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, took over as the new prime minister.
Anticipating his loss, Khan, who charged the opposition colluded with the United States to unseat him, called on his supporters to stage rallies nationwide.