At a glance-
- Army deployed in Red Zone to protect important installations
- One batch of PTI supporters make it to D-Chowk; Imran's caravan enters Islamabad
- Imran Khan's convoy from KP enters Islamabad
- Supporters asked to reach Islamabad's D-Chowk, take out rallies in their respective cities
- PTI activists clash with Punjab police; PTI leaders Ali Asjad Malhi, Jamshed Cheema among arrested
- Dr Yasmin Rashid's vehicle comes under attack; windshield smashed at Lahore's Bati Chowk
- Dr Rashid and Andaleeb Abbas briefly detained afterwards
- Activists force their way through roadblocks in Lahore
- PTI south KP convoy led by Ali Amin Gandapur enters Punjab
- Shelling at Attock as protesters try to remove shipping containers with a crane
- Imran and govt rubbish talk of a deal
After giving a six-day ultimatum to the government to announce the election date, PTI Chairman Imran Khan left for his Bani Gala residence ending the Azadi March on Thursday.
Addressing the participants of the 'Azadi March' at Jinnah Avenue, the PTI chief warned that he will return to Islamabad along with millions of people if the government fails to announce the date for elections.
Imran Khan demanded the assemblies to be dissolved forthwith and elections announced.
PTI workers reach US Embassy in Islamabad after Imran Khan left the venue
PTI workers threw stones using catapults at the Jang/Geo building located near D-Chowk and shattered the glasses of the newsroom.
Due to stone-pelting, several staffers got injured. Also, vans parked near D-chowk were damaged.
The PTI chairman and the top party leaders left the container soon after the speech while the party workers managed to enter the Red Zone despite heavy security.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan has given a six-day deadline to the government for announcing elections and warned that he would return to the capital with the "entire nation" otherwise.
In his address to the protesters at Islamabad's 9th Avenue this morning, he denounced the "tactics" used by the "imported government", including raids and arrests, to stop the PTI's march and thanked the Supreme Court (SC) for taking notice of the matter.
Imran said there was a "huge responsibility" on SC judges, as he went on to ask where in a democracy peaceful protests were not allowed and demonstrators had to face tear-gas shelling, police raids and arrests.
He claimed that five PTI protesters were killed in clashes after the PTI's march, saying that one had fallen off the Attock bridge amid tear-gas shelling and the other was pushed into Ravi river. He said he had also received information that three were killed in Karachi.
Addressing the SC, he asked, "What crime were we committing?"
He lauded female PTI protesters for participating in the "struggle for real freedom".
Inspector-General of Islamabad Police Dr Akbar Nasir Khan issued a statement and said that the police had been ordered not to use "unnecessary force" against the protesters.
"The police and other law enforcement agencies deployed in Islamabad are not carrying any weapons. But information has been received that some of the protesters are carrying weapons that could lead to the loss of precious lives. Therefore, all protesters are requested to keep the protest peaceful as it was a political process."
As PTI chief Imran Khan entered Pakistan's Islamabad in the early hours of Thursday and marched towards D-Chowk, the federal government authorised the deployment of the army in Red Zone.
In a tweet, the country's Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said, "The Federal Government is pleased to authorize deployment of sufficient strength of troops of Pakistan Army in Red Zone under Article 245."
Among the buildings that will be protected are - the Supreme Court, Parliament House, Prime Minister House, Presidency, Pakistan Secretariat and Diplomatic enclaves, the notification said.
Pakistani police fired teargas, baton-charged and detained supporters of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday to stop them from reaching the capital Islamabad to demand fresh elections, officials and witnesses said.
Clashes between Khan's supporters and police were reported in multiple cities.
Khan, ousted in a confidence vote last month after losing his partners in his coalition, has urged supporters to march on Islamabad and stay there until the new government is dissolved and a date for a fresh election is announced.
Islamabad's entry and exit routes have been blocked, as well as important civic sites, officials said. Entry and exit points were also blocked to and from all major cities in Punjab province and on the Grand Trunk Road (GTR).
"No blockade can stop us," Khan said from atop a truck on the GT road on his way to Islamabad from the northwestern city of Peshawar.
"We will remain in Islamabad till the announcement of dates for dissolution of assemblies & elections are given," he later tweeted.
The government has said Khan's march is illegal and accuses him of seeking to bring protesters to Islamabad with "evil intentions".
Khan's supporters also clashed with security forces in other major cities, including the southern port city of Karachi and the eastern city of Lahore.
A mob torched a prison van in Karachi after clashing with police, and another group of protesters set fire to several trees along a main thoroughfare in Islamabad, officials said.
The political violence has compounded uncertainty in the nuclear-armed South Asian nation ahead of a likely announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) later in the day on whether it will resume a $6 billion rescue package.
With falling foreign reserves, a fast-crashing rupee, and double-digit inflation, Pakistan's new government is struggling to stop a downward economic spiral.
Live local TV footage showed police fighting with Khan's supporters, beating them and in some places breaking their vehicles' windscreens and bundling them into police vans.
Amjad Malik, an interior ministry official, told Reuters no one had been seriously injured in the clashes.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah later said police had carried out a total of 4,417 swoops on Khan supporters' homes, offices and on protest rallies and had arrested nearly 1,700 people. Of those, 250 were later freed, he said.
Khan has promised to rally more than two million people in Islamabad.
"We haven't stopped anyone from exercising their constitutional and legal right to hold a rally or take part in democratic politics, but we can't allow anyone to sow violence and chaos," said Sanaullah.
Pakistan's Supreme Court, later in the day, ordered the government and Khan's party to negotiate on holding a peaceful public meeting in Islamabad.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said his government was trying to clear up an economic mess that he blamed Khan for.
"You've handed over a sinking economy to us, and now you're planning sit-ins and protest," Sharif said in Islamabad. "We are trying to energize this weak economy."