Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday said he will finally announce the date for his party’s ‘Haqiqi Azadi’ long march this Thursday (Oct. 27) or Friday (Oct. 28), a day after he was disqualified from public office by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over “corrupt practices.”
If the long march ends up happening—and is not postponed again or cancelled—it would mark the second time the PTI has attempted to converge on the federal capital to pressure the ruling coalition to call early elections. On May 25, the PTI had undertaken a similar march that Khan had abruptly called off after reaching D-Chowk following a night of clashes between Islamabad police and PTI supporters.
Since the ECP’s ruling, Khan is also facing a terror case along with around 100 party workers, triggered by unrest following the decision being announced. PMLN leader Mohsin Ranjha has also filed an “attempted murder” case against the ousted prime minister over an “attack” on him outside the ECP office.
Addressing a press conference alongside PTI Senator Azam Swati, Khan said it would not make any difference if he were arrested, as the long march would take place regardless. While acknowledging ongoing negotiations between the government and the PTI, Khan said he was not hopeful of any resolution or early elections, stressing the only solution was the long march. To concerns about violence during the protests, Khan claimed it would be “peaceful” and people would “enjoy themselves.”
During his address, Khan also vowed to not allow the government to torture or harass his party workers, reiterating his claims of similar situations not happening anywhere else in the world. Pointing to Swati, he reiterated allegations of torture during police custody for “criticizing a person holding a big office,” but stopped short of identifying anyone. Swati, per the Federal Investigation Agency, was arrested for posting tweets against the incumbent Army chief and seeking to incite mutiny.
According to the PTI chief, Swati was not kept in police custody but was handed to “someone” else. “Who were the people to whom he was handed over to?” he questioned and urged Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to conduct an inquiry into the matter.