By Samiullah Randhawa and Iftikhar Alam
The provincial government on Tuesday closed several roads in Lahore and partially suspended public transport on the eve of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s planned long march to Islamabad, scheduled for Wednesday.
According to media reports, the situation was no different in other cities of Punjab.
The development came hours after Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the government had decided that it would not allow the PTI to conduct its long march to the capital.
Hundreds of thousands of motorists remained stranded on roads, paralyzing life in Lahore and other cities.
The metro bus service was restricted to MAO College, three kilometres from Shahdara across Ravi River, the end point of the service.
There were reports of internet suspension in Lahore and other cities, a strategy of the government to disconnect PTI supporters from the social media, a major weapon of the opposition party leading the mass movement with a demand for fresh elections and the dissolution of the National Assembly.
Education institutions, including the University of Punjab, announced the cancellation of all kinds of exams scheduled for Wednesday.
The Punjab Higher Education announced the cancellation of the Pakistan Studies exam for matriculation students in Rawalpindi and Lahore divisions. The date of the exam will be announced later.
The government started sealing all exit and entry points of the metropolitan on Monday midnight to stop the marchers.
Shipping containers were placed on Ravi Bridge, Old Ravi Bridge and Saggian Bridge, dividing the city into two parts.
Lahore-Islamabad Motorway was also closed at Babu Sabu and Thokar Niaz Baig interchanges.
The National Highway Authority (NHA) issued an advisory, saying: “Faizpur and Babu Sabu interchanges have been closed due to the PTI (planned) protest while traffic coming from Islamabad has been diverted to Thokar Niaz Baig.”
The situation disrupted the supply of fuel and essential commodities, including vegetables and fruits. According to media reports, some ambulances also remained stranded in long queues.
A Pakistan Railways official said the government was also considering suspending the train service from Lahore to Islamabad.