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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Imran Khan to announce next long march after SC verdict

While addressing a media conference in Peshawar, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said on Wednesday that he will announce date for the next long march once the Apex court decides on the petition filed by his party seeking protection for peaceful march and protest.

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Imran Khan asked the Supreme Court to provide protection to PTI’s march and ensure that the right of Pakistanis to peaceful protest is not violated. “As soon as their decision comes, I will announce [the date for the next march] and we will leave [for the capital]” he said while addressing the media conference.

Barrister Ali Zafar has filed a petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of the PTI. The petition posed several questions to the court, seeking clarification on the freedom of movement and right to peaceful protest. The petition also asks whether the rights granted under Articles 4 (right to be dealt with in accordance with law), 5 (loyalty to state and obedience to the Constitution and the law), 8 (laws inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights to be void), 9 (security of person), 10 (safeguards as to arrest and detention), 14 (inviolability of dignity of man), 15 (freedom of movement), 16 (freedom of assembly), 17 (freedom of association), 19 (freedom of speech) and 25 (equality of citizens) can be “unreasonably curtailed by executive authorities through use of disproportionate and unlawful force on peaceful citizenry”.

The petition seeks opinion of the Apex court on the issue of use of force by state to unlawfully suppress the liberty and freedom of the citizens as enshrined in the constitution.

The petition requests the Supreme Court to ensure that the federal and Punjab governments to “not torture or arrest or use any force or coercive measures or intimidating tactics (including, without limitation, conducting of illegal raids in their houses)” against PTI workers and supporters.

Imran Khan, while addressing the media talk, pointed out to the use of tear gas by federal and Punjab government to suppress PTI’s recent long march on Islamabad that was called off by him as soon as it reached Islamabad.

Read More: PML-N govt wanted to thwart Azadi March: Imran Khan

He further said that this time they will march on Islamabad with better planning and preparations. “After [the previous] Supreme Court ruling, we believed the path would be clear and no one would be picked up. We will not repeat the mistakes”, he asserted.

The government had invoked section 144 to curb the protest of PTI last time. Hurdles and blockades were installed throughout the route of the long march and within major cities to discourage and impede the movement of protestors. Moreover, tear gas was used excessively, particularly in the D-chowk to disperse the protestors awaiting Imran Khan in the capital. Arrests of PTI workers were also reported on the night of the long march.

Although, the supreme court has directed the government to not make arrests or use force against the marcher, government’s dealing of the 25th May long-march was characterized by excessive abuse of power, violence, arrests, tear gas and baton charge.

Read More:Police raid residences of several key PTI leaders

Imran Khan had called off the protest while addressing the marchers at the 9th Avenue after giving a 6 day-deadline to the government to dissolve assemblies and announce fresh elections. Later, Imran Khan said he had taken the decision of calling off the protest to avoid bloodshed.

To avoid such situation this time, PTI has filed the petition in the Supreme Court, seeking clarification on the right of Pakistanis to peaceful protest and security guarantee for its next long-march.

Imran Khan accused the coalition government of threatening people and suppressing their right to peaceful demonstration. He also accused the government of using the shells that are normally used against the terrorists only. “The violent, barbaric way in which shelling was done … law enforcement agencies do not do this violence on their own people. Only criminals do this” he went on to say.

He labelled Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah as “criminals” and “the most cowardly people”.