The arrival of Imran Khan led Azadi March from KP was delayed by several hours. Keeping in view less than expected numbers that IK brought from KP and the Punjab govt’s action against PTI marchers, fewer PTI activists are likely to reach Islamabad than expected. The relatively smaller number that responded to IK’s call has brought to question the over-reaction on the part of the federal govt in the form of raids, arrests and enforcement of PPC’s Section 144. .
PTI protestors in Punjab clashed with police at a few points when they were stopped from proceeding to Islamabad. At places the protestors were teargassed. This delayed their movement but many succeeded in getting through the obstacles. They will find more obstacles as they try to pass through Rawalpindi. This would further reduce the number of those participating in the march from Punjab.
The govt has justified the blockade by maintaining that IK wants to resort to bloodshed and if the “bloody march” is not nipped in the bud, it would put the survival of the nation at risk.
The common people suffered on account of the blockades. They couldn’t reach offices, other people’s businesses suffered, litigants coming from far off cities missed court proceedings and schools were closed and exam postponed.
The arrest of a number of lawyers led Islamabad High Court Bar to approach the SC. While hearing their petition concerning arrests and worried over the political confrontation and the sad state of the economy, SC decided to play the role of the arbitrator. This could lead the court down a slippery slope. The SC allowed PTI to hold sit-in at Islamabad’s H-9, while Imran Khan has announced changing the venue of his sit-in from Srinagar Avenue to D-Chowk from where he targeted important gov offices and Parliament in 2014. The apex court called for letting the Azadi March leaders protest and go home. Imran Khan however wants to keep his marchers in Islamabad till the announcement of dates for dissolution of assemblies and holding of elections. One wonders how the court will enforce the orders given as an arbitrator.