Ousted Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan launched a “long march” on Friday in Islamabad to demand early elections, mounting pressure on the Shehbaz Sharif government, which is already in crisis.
The cricketer-turned-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief was booted from office in April by a no-trust vote after defections by some of his coalition partners, but he retains mass support in Pakistan.
Top updates on Imran Khan’s long march:
1. Thousands of people joined a convoy which will travel around 380 kilometres from Lahore to Islamabad over the next week, stopping along the way to hold rallies and gather more protesters.
2. Security has already been tightened in Islamabad, with hundreds of shipping containers positioned at key intersections, ready to block marchers should they try to storm the government enclave.
3. The long march will start from Lahore’s Liberty Chowk and after passing through the Ferozepur Road, Icchra, Azadi Chowk, Mozang, Data Darbar side, it will move towards Muridke, reported Geo News.
4. The march is expected to enter Islamabad on November 4 after passing through Kamonki, Gujranwala, Daska, Sumbrial, Lala Musa, Khariyan, Gujjar Khan and Rawalpindi.
5. Imran Khan along with his supporters is expected to stage a sit-in in Islamabad against the Shehbaz-led coalition government after the end of the long march
6. This will be the PTI chief’s second march towards Islamabad after he was ousted via a no-confidence motion earlier this year. The protest had turned violent during a similar protest in May.
7. Khan was voted into power in 2018 on an anti-corruption platform by an electorate tired of dynastic politics, but his mishandling of the economy – and falling out with a military accused of helping his rise – sealed his fate.
8. The march comes as Pakistan’s ruling coalition government struggles to revive a floundering economy and deal with the aftermath of devastating floods that left a third of the country under water – and a repair bill of at least $30 billion.
9. The establishment has been under further scrutiny this week following the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif by police in Kenya, where he had fled to avoid sedition charges.
10. Taking a jibe at her predecessor, information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the nation has rejected the “bloody march” and refused to become a “slave” of the “foreign funded fitna”.
(With inputs from agencies)