Lahore: Pakistan Opposition leader Imran Khan’s supporters chanting “Go Nawaz go” today cut off the city from the rest of the country by blocking all major roads during their anti-Government protests even as negotiators from the two sides met to defuse the crisis and make the dialogue process more result-oriented.
Demanding an inquiry into alleged rigging in the May 2013 general elections by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N, activists from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) gathered at all main roads of the city in the morning and burnt tyres, leading to suspension of transport services.
The city’s main markets and most of the schools, colleges and universities also remained closed.
Although the ruling PML-N had stopped its workers from coming out on roads to avoid a face-off with the PTI activists, at Bhatti Chowk, Hall Road and Chungi Amer Sadhu, the activists of both parties had a scuffle.
However, with the intervention of police, the situation was brought under control.
Over 12,000 policemen have been deployed on all major roads in the city to prevent any violence.
Khan termed the shut down of Lahore as a big success for the PTI workers.
“The response of the Lahorities on my call is more than my expectations,” said Khan, who will address a rally at Mall Road later in the day.
“I am thankful to the Lahorities. I also want to apologise to them for inconvenience but their one day’s sacrifice can make New Pakistan. If we do not make sacrifices today our children would need to make sacrifices tomorrow,” he said.
The PTI chief said that the party workers have been holding protests since August for their legitimate demands, but justice is being denied by the government.
Khan has warned that he and his supporters will paralyse the country on December 18 if the government fails to constitute a judicial commission comprising Supreme Court judges and officials of ISI and military intelligence to probe the allegations of rigging in the polls.
The government also admitted that the PTI workers managed to shutdown the city.
“The PTI should be ashamed of shutting down Lahore today. Schools and colleges remained closed which is unfortunate,” Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal said.
The Punjab government alleged that three people, including a child died, as the ambulances carrying them could not reach hospital because of the blockade of the roads.
“The PTI is responsible for three deaths,” Salman Rafique, adviser to the Chief Minister on health, alleged.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of the Prime Minister, alleged that Khan wants to break the country.
“The violent protest of Khan is before everyone. He wants to break the country,” Shahbaz said.
Earlier, the negotiators of ruling PML-N and Opposition PTI held an “informal” meeting in Islamabad last night during which they exchanged documents that both sides hoped would make the next round of talks more result-oriented than earlier attempts.