ISLAMABAD, Oct 29: In an unusual move, Islamabad police on Saturday barred hotels and guest houses in the federal capital from providing accommodation to the participants of the long march led by former Pakistan premier Imran Khan to force the government to announce a date for early general elections.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has also directed television channels not to live telecast PTI leaders’ speeches and the long march, according to its notification of October 28.
The PEMRA said it was observed during a speech that “statements against state institutions were aired live” in violation of the code of conduct and court orders. It warned that legal action, leading to suspensions and revocation of licences, would be initiated in case of non-compliance.
The long march dubbed as ‘Haqeeqi Azadi March’ began from the Liberty Chowk area in Lahore on late Friday afternoon and the participants moved slowly as his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party held power shows at Ichhra, Mozang, Data Sahib and Azadi Chowk areas of Lahore.
The march stopped at Data Darbar last night and will resume its journey on Saturday.
It plans to travel on the historic GT Road and arrive in Islamabad on November 4 to hold a big protest rally, which may be transformed into a sit-in.
Khan has said no one can stop the PTI’s long march, adding his supporters must wait for his next decision when he reaches Islamabad.
“As to what will happen when we reach Islamabad, you have to wait as to what I decide after reaching Islamabad,” he told a journalist in a video tweeted by Aaj TV.
On the second day, the convoy will march to Kamoke via Muridke, where the PTI chairman was expected to address his supporters, according to the organisers.
Then the rally will proceed towards Gujranwala City where Khan will address a public gathering.
From Gujranwala, the rally will proceed to Sialkot via Daska and Sambrial, and it will conclude at Wazirabad for an overnight stay.
The next morning, as per the itinerary of the long march, the convoy will head towards Gujarat, the home town of Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi who will welcome it. Khan will address a public gathering there.
Convoys from north and south of Punjab will also join the long march at Rawat in the suburbs of Islamabad from there to march into the capital city.
Islamabad police barred hotels and guest houses in the federal capital from providing accommodation to the participants of the march.
The directive came with an official notification issued by the police. It said hotels and guest houses will be checked daily. Non-compliers will have to face strict action.
According to Khan, 70, the purpose of the protest was to achieve real freedom by forcing the government to announce snap elections. He promised to remain peaceful, and stay away from the high-security Red Zone housing state buildings and embassies. But many doubt his pronouncements due to his history of U-turns.
Khan has sought permission to hold the rally in Islamabad which was not granted as yet as the capital administration has sought an explanation from PTI leaders over violations of terms and conditions during its previous public gathering on May 25 in Islamabad.
The government also asked the party to specify the places for their gathering and also inform the administration of the time of calling off the protest, the tentative number of participants and what will be the exact route through which participants of the long march will enter Islamabad.
The government has taken elaborate security measures to deal with the situation as there is fear that violence may erupt if the marchers were forcibly stopped to enter the city.
Police and paramilitary forces would be around to handle the situation. Regular troops would be available if the situation got out of control. (PTI)