Supporters of opposition politician Imran Khan played hide and seek with police throughout Saturday as they tried to break a security cordon put in place around his home in Islamabad to thwart his plans to lockdown the Pakistani capital next week.
Police used teargas to disperse workers of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party who tried to break the cordon around his residence in the suburb of Bani Gala. Khan urged his supporters to continue their protests and to travel in large groups to avoid being arrested.
“We will show (Prime Minister) Nawaz (Sharif) what democracy is,” Khan said while addressing the media and his supporters.
“If you arrive in small numbers, the police will put you in jail. Avoid being arrested until November 2,” he said, referring to his plan to lockdown the national capital next week to pressure Sharif to quit over revelations in the Panama Papers leaks that his children owned offshore assets worth millions of dollars.
“The government is blocking roads and authorities are arresting PTI workers, which is a violation of court orders,” Khan said.
Concerned about the well-being of his supporters, Khan directed PTI leaders to provide them with food and shelter.
Khan also challenged the Islamabad high court’s order that no one would be allowed to blockade Islamabad and said it was his “legal and constitutional right to hold a peaceful protest and I will exercise that right”.
He said the protest scheduled for November 2 would be held at any cost. “We will change the fate of Pakistan on November 2, and no one has the power to stop us,” he added.
Khan chaired a meeting of PTI leaders to review arrangements for the planned protest. Party representatives from across the country assured Khan that workers would reach Islamabad ahead of time to participate in the dharna against the PML-N government.
Mushahidullah Khan, the prime minister’s advisor, said authorities were dispersing all crowds as the government had banned all political rallies and protests. PML-N leaders also poked fun at the PTI leadership, saying the only thing that was stopped from entering Khan’s house was “powder”. This was a reference to media reports of Khan and his aides allegedly being addicted to cocaine, a charge that the PTI has denied.