In an effort to reclaim the top position, Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), has led his Haqeeqi Azadi Long March from Lahore to Islamabad. The actual news, though, is his vehement statement at the Liberty Roundabout prior to the rally’s start, in which he demanded the removal of those who had “tortured” Azam Swati. Not to mention, Senator Azam Swati has claimed that he was tortured while in captivity by security agencies. Then he shocked his audience by claiming that the press conference of the ISI director-general was “more political than that of Sheikh Rashid.”
Imran Khan, the leader of the PTI, and the federal capital, which is keeping tabs on the anti-government long march, will be the centre of attention as long as the march is on GT Road. Before arriving in Muridke for an overnight stay, the long march left from Liberty Chowk in Lahore and travelled along Ferozepur Road, Icchra, Azadi Chowk, Mozang, and Data Darbar. After travelling via Kamonki, Gujranwala, Daska, Sumbrial, Lala Musa, Khariyan, Gujjar Khan, and Rawalpindi, it will enter the federal capital.
Imran Khan has embarked on a long march for the second time in a year; the first time was on May 25 of this year, shortly after his ouster from power in April. Nobody is sure what will happen to the second march, for which the Punjab government has sent out more than 9,000 officials and Islamabad police have sent out more than 13,000 officers. The first long march fizzled out once PTI entered the Red Zone. Even though the two sides have traded insults, the PTI insists that the march will be peaceful and will only be in certain places, while dismissing the centre’s worries that there may be carnage. After Pakistan’s highest court yesterday rejected the government’s request for orders to immediately halt the PTI’s long march to the federal capital, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah issued a warning against any mob attacks. The Islamabad administration has denied the PTI permission to organise a rally in Islamabad, citing a broken promise from the past as the cause for this decision. It is unclear what will happen in Islamabad when the rally arrives in the capital. When PTI workers attempted to enter the red zone on May 25, the district administration demanded an explanation from the PTI representatives for why they had broken their pledge. According to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, if the PTI’s long march in Islamabad is peaceful, the government would not stop it. However, if it is not, the government has threatened to respond “very forcefully.” He claimed that PTI leader Imran Khan had publicly vowed not to enter Islamabad’s Red Zone and to limit himself to areas that had been authorised by the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court. He was speaking during a Twitter space session. He warned that if they did not, they would respond with “full force,” and added, “We will not stop them if they remain peaceful.”
The bitter aspect of the lengthy march’s opening day is Imran Khan’s verbal battle with the security establishment. Imran Khan alleged that ISI chief Lt-Gen Nadeem Anjum had stated that we do not engage in politics while addressing a large march in Lahore’s Liberty Chowk. I have never witnessed Sheikh Rashid holding such a political press conference. He said that you weren’t impartial at this press conference and that I’m keeping quiet out of respect for my nation and its institutions since I don’t harm it. Additionally, he specifically mentioned ISI DGC Major General Faisal Naseer and Islamabad Sector Commander Faheem, claiming that they are to blame for the nation’s weakness. Imran Khan, a former prime minister, also made his first public appearance during this speech and addressed Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Bilawal Bhutto’s comments about the station commander in Karachi. This terrible situation has unintentionally led to a verbal battle between the two parties. There should be criticism, but it should be useful. The best course of action for both parties is to carry on as usual; the army must confine its attention to border defence and politics to national leadership.
Another sector that becomes the immediate victim of an uncertain political situation is the economy. The dollar has again started its upward trend with the start of the long march. Inflation rates will go up again. We remember that in 2014, when Imran Khan staged a sit-in in Islamabad, it delayed the visit of the president of China to Pakistan. Call it a matter of coincidence, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif plans to go to China after returning from Saudi Arabia in the next week, in which the CPEC project is expected to be discussed. If the CPEC is delayed again, Imran Khan will be blamed for creating unrest in the country. At a time when Pakistan is suffering from flood disasters and facing the most severe economic crisis, the former prime minister of the country and the head of a major political party should realize the importance of his role. As a popular leader of this time, Imran Khan should play the role of a responsible, patriotic political leader and instead of making the country a victim of chaos, division, and unrest, he should act with seriousness and integrity.