Azadi March caravan reaches Lahore


LAHORE: The anti-government Azadi March protest led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman reached Lahore in the early hours of Wednesday.

A huge number of supporters and leaders of many opposition parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) welcomed JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and the participants of Azadi March on reaching Lahore. The main opposition political parties have set up camps at various places in Lahore, including Thokar, Multan Chungi, Yateem Khana, Samanabad, Chauburji, Data Darbar and Batti Chowk at the Ravi Road, to welcome the participants of Azadi March.

The leadership of main opposition parties are scheduled to address the workers on reaching Azadi Chowk. The long march of opposition parties including, JUI-F, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Awami National Party (ANP) and others started its journey from Karachi on Oct. 27 and will enter Islamabad on Oct. 31 where the JUI-F chief has announced to decide the next course of action.

On late Saturday, the government and the opposition’s Rehbar Committee struck a deal after entering into tough talks and breaking the earlier deadlock. According to the rules set for the Azadi March, the protesters will not enter into Islamabad’s Red Zone and instead will set their demonstration in H-9 area in Sunday bazaar grounds.

During a press conference after talks, government’s negotiation committee head and Defence Minister Pervez Khattak recalled Prime Minister Imran Khan’s promise that the participants will see no obstructions from the government as long as the protest remains peaceful.

According to the agreement, the government will not stand in the protesters’ way and neither will the participants face any difficulty in getting food delivered. Importantly, the participants will not be allowed to venture far from the designated venue, whereas the responsibility of the internal security will lie with the organizers of the march.

The leaders further pointed out that in case of a violation of the terms and conditions, and damage to lives or property, the relevant action as per the law will be taken. Thousands of policemen have been tasked to prepare for any untoward situation and maintain law and order situation in the capital city. Police had held a drill to perform anti-riot exercises and learnt how to use water cannons to disperse protesters.

Effective security measures have been formulated for the safeguarding Faizabad Interchange and other entry points, including Rawat and Tarnol.

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