ISLAMABAD: Clashes broke out Friday as tens of thousands of protesters from two anti-government movements slowly converged on the capital.
A stone-throwing mob attacked the convoy of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan as he led supporters through Gujranwala. Men brandishing ruling-party posters attacked his convoy, throwing shoes and stones. Imran’s convoy was shot at but he was not injured, his spokeswoman said. The government insisted shots were not fired and promised an investigation into the incident. “The chief minister of Punjab has ordered an inquiry and all those responsible for scuffle will be held accountable,” the statement said. “There were absolutely no gunshots fired at his rally and such PTI-driven sensationalism is unfortunate.”
In the capital, authorities blocked main roads with shipping containers and barbed wire in a effort to control the marches. Riot police were out in force but hundreds of protesters began to gather, banging drums, singing and dancing as they prepared to welcome their comrades approaching the city. “We have come to save our country because of the call of our leader, Imran Khan,” said 36-year-old Ajaz Khan in central Islamabad. “We will not leave from here until our leader tells us to go.”
A clash occurred between the workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-N. PTI leader Shireen Mazari said that four party workers got injured due to the stoning. Another party leader, Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked party workers to remain peaceful, saying the government has got confused after watching the march. Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashhood said that “we felt sorrow over the unpleasant incident. We are trying to prevent any such unpleasant incident.”
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Shairf took notice of the incident and sought a report from the IG Punjab. According to reports when the “Azadi March” reached Shairanwala Pul in Gujranwala workers of the PTI and PMLN began to chant slogans against each other which led to an exchange of stones. Police, however, intervened to resolve the matter.
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