Chairman PTI Imran Khan’s threatened Azaadi march onto Islamabad has converted the federal capital into a city of containers. While he hasn’t even announced the date of his march yet, the government has already fortified the capital city with hundreds of shipping containers placed on main arteries of Islamabad.
Malcolm Purcell McLean, an American transport entrepreneur, invented the shipping containers for effective and convenient transport of goods, however, Pakistan’s government has found an altogether different use for it; fortification of cities against political marches. There’s no example of any other country using shipping containers to “maintain law and order” except Pakistan.
Not only is the shipping container itself a very valuable property of traders and shippers, in many instances, the containers seized by the government from dry ports are full of goods worth millions of Rupees. These containers are used by the government for months on end without paying any rent or compensation to their owners, while the containers and the goods they contain are often damaged and sometimes even lost in political tussles.
At the moment, hundreds of containers have been placed throughout the capital to prevent a march that hasn’t even been announced yet. These containers have been seized from the dry ports of Islamabad, Faisalabad, Lahore and other cities. While PTI’s long march might hurt the trade activity when it begins, the government is already hampering the trade and logistics industry by seizing containers and blocking roads.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been threatening a second long march onto Islamabad for the past several weeks. He has been going city to city to mobilize public for the Haqeeqi Azaadi (True Freedom) Movement. Chairman PTI even administered oath to party workers, seeking their absolute cooperation and commitment to the cause of removing the PDM government, which he calls ‘a government of thugs’.
He has held scores of public rallies, conventions, labor unions gathering, seminars and TV interviews with the agenda to garner maximum support for his long march against the ‘imported’ government.
Often at public rallies, Imran Khan observes that he has never seen the public so aggravated and politically conscious as they are now, and he is quite right as he attracts hundreds of thousands of people at his every rally. Apparently, he seems confident to dethrone the Shehbaz Sharif led PDM government through this newfound political awakening of the whole nation.
Imran Khan has said that the upcoming long march, which he says he will announce soon, will be different from the May 25th Azaadi march. On May 25, PTI failed to physically mobilize the public amid an unprecedented crackdown by the government on PTI workers and supporters.
At the time public mobilization was suppressed in Punjab through the abuse of police and other state resources, as the province was held by PML-N at the time. Since PTI is back in power in Punjab now, it is confident that given there will be no state hinderance it will get massive public support.
While the government and establishment are not ready for early elections, PTI’s second long march is apparently in the final stages of preparations. Whether he seeks to surround the capital, enter the city and block its main arteries or just create chaos to show his strength in order to negotiate with the establishment; Imran Khan’s objectives remain unclear. Meanwhile, the public and the economy is already feeling the heat with hundreds of containers placed across Islamabad and business under stress.