South Asia

Shots fired at Imran convoy as protesters march to Islamabad

Supporters of Pakistan's cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan chant slogans while waiting for other supporters marching to Islamabad from Lahore, in Islamabad on Friday.

Supporters of Pakistan's cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan chant slogans while waiting for other supporters marching to Islamabad from Lahore, in Islamabad on Friday.

Thousands of anti-government protesters, determined to unseat Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, marched towards the capital in flag-waving convoys as clashes erupted in Gujranwala city after gun shots were fired at the vehicle of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan.

Two opposition groups, led by Mr. Khan and Canada-based cleric Tahirul Qadri, plan to converge on Islamabad to press Mr. Sharif to call an early election little over a year after his landslide victory in the polls.

Shots were fired at the cricketer-turned-politician’s vehicle but he was not injured, Mr. Khan’s spokeswoman Aneela Khan said.

The convoy was also attacked in Gujranwala by a stone-throwing mob and police did not intervene, she said.

Confirming the incident of firing at Mr. Khan’s convoy, Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rasheed said they were attacked four times, and alleged that everything happened in the presence of police.

He also alleged that this happened on the orders of Sharif.

Mr. Khan said it was the PML(N) activists who were standing above a police van and pelting stones at his supporters. Television pictures showed people tearing up posters featuring Mr. Khan’s party and clashing with his supporters.

The anti-government protesters of both the groups plan a mass rally in Islamabad to press their claims, at the end of a “long march” — which set off on a 370-km journey to the country’s capital on Thursday.

Mr. Khan initiated his Azadi March (freedom march) from Zaman Park, Lahore, while Mr. Qadri launched his Inqelab March (revolution march) from the Model Town area of the city.

Mr. Khan’s march had reached the industrial town of Gujranwala, about 70 km north of Lahore.

Media reports said Mr. Qadri’s convoy of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) movement, was further along the road to Islamabad than PTI.

The PAT convoy has been divided into three parts, of which one has reached Jhelum, about 120 km south of Islamabad, comprising about 8,000 to 10,000 people. The other two are expected to reach soon.

Further, all three convoys are going to gather in Jhelum, before proceeding to Islamabad.

Mr. Khan, speaking to reporters in Gujranwala, said, “The time has come for Nawaz’s monarchy to end, and to start a Naya Pakistan. One million PTI supporters will reach Islamabad.”

“We have enough power right now to topple the government,” he said.

“Gujranwala packed with PTI workers — I addressed them on the outskirts of the city. The Junoon is as strong as ever,” Mr. Khan tweeted.

Addressing his supporters in Kharian, Mr. Qadri said his party had received reports of a possible attack on their convoy after which they changed their strategy.


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Printable version | May 19, 2022 1:32:45 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/Shots-fired-at-Imran-Khan-convoy-as-anti-government-protesters-march-to-Islamabad/article60340378.ece