Six-day deadline or I will come again: Imran Khan

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ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman Imran Khan addressed the protesters at Islamabad's 9th Avenue on Thursday morning and gave a six-day deadline to the government for announcing elections and dissolving assemblies and warned that he would return to the capital with the "entire nation" otherwise.

"I had decided that I will sit here until the government dissolves assemblies and announces elections, but of what I have seen in the past 24 hours, they (govt) are taking the nation towards anarchy," he said, claiming that the government was also trying to create a divide between the nation and police.

Imran said the government would be happy if he staged a sit-in in Islamabad as it would lead to clashes between the people and police and the army.

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 said he "wants justice for the people of Pakistan from Supreme Court judges and the lawyers' community".

"I am again asking the judiciary to save your FIA (Federal Investigation Agency). In the future, no FIA officer will investigate the powerful if he will meet the same end as Dr Rizwan and Asghar," he added. Imran said peaceful protest was the right of every Pakistan and no one "gives you (the government) to treat the people in the manner that you treated them".

The PTI chief said he and the entire nation was looking towards the judiciary after what had happened during the past 48 hours.

He lauded female PTI protesters for participating in the "struggle for real freedom". He further lauded the protesters for their stamina and patriotism.

After Imran's speech PTI protesters holding a demonstration at Karachi's Numaish had dispersed peacefully. Later, the PTI lauded that "bravery of marchers who stayed despite shelling and tear gas attacks".

"But most celebrated thing was breaking barriers to get to D-Chowk; we defeated them!" the party said in a tweet.

The PTI chairman had entered Islamabad in the early hours of Thursday and marched towards D-Chowk, while the federal government authorised the deployment of the army in Red Zone to "protect important government buildings".

Later, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that Imran would be addressing the protesters at the Centaurus bridge.

With Imran's convoy, which began the journey from Swabi's Wali Interchange, en route to D-Chowk via the Srinagar Highway, a batch of his party workers and supporters are already present in the face of intense police shelling.

Earlier, during a brief stopover in Hasan Abdal approximately 50 kilometres away from the capital, Imran reiterated that he and his supporters would not vacate D-Chowk until a date for new elections was announced by the "imported government".

The PTI leader claimed that when his caravan reaches its destination, the police would also come to realise that his mission is about "jihad and not politics". Later, a video shared on PTI's official account showed police officials waving and welcoming Imran's caravan on its way to D-Chowk.

The PTI's march towards the D-Chowk and the shelling of teargas by police took place despite the Supreme Court directives for the former to hold its protest in Islamabad's H-9 area and orders for the government to not make arrests or use force in connection with the march.

Earlier, as the PTI's Azadi March began, tensions in Punjab rose after police made use of tear gas and arrested several PTI marchers in cities across the province as activists attempted to remove shipping containers blocking routes to Islamabad.

Senior journalist Hamir Mir, on his Twitter account, claimed to have received a message from PTI leader Dr Shireen Mazari in which she claimed that the tear gas fired on women and children by the police was "expired".

"Use of expired tear gas is not only violation of court orders but it’s a terrorism against Pakistani citizens by Rana Sanaullah," he quoted Mazari as saying. Mazari retweeted Mir's tweet in an apparent confirmation of her claim.

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