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Imran Khan again targets Pakistan's establishment on Day 2 of protest march; govt rules out talks over snap polls

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Islamabad, Oct 29: Imran Khan on Saturday again targeted the powerful establishment, saying the people of Pakistan should not be treated like “goats and sheep”, even as the coalition government ruled out any negotiations with the former prime minister on holding snap elections.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief addressed the participants of his long march on the Day 2 of his protest rally at Shahdara area of Lahore before leading them to Islamabad in a convoy of vehicles.

Imran Khan again targets Pakistans establishment on Day 2 of protest march; govt rules out talks over snap polls

Continuing his anti-establishment rhetoric, Khan, 70, made it apparent that he was talking about the leadership of the army and the premier intelligence agency. “Don’t treat us like animals, that you first call them robbers and then impose them on us, and tell us bhair bakrian (goats and sheep) that now move in this direction,” he said, alluding towards what apparently the establishment used to tell him about rulers before him. “You first tell us that Nawaz Sharif was a robber and now he is clean.

Previously Zardari was 'Mister 10 per cent’ in the world, but now since 'we have decided, you also accept him’.” Khan also talked about the alleged torture of his party senator Azam Swati, who was arrested earlier this month for a tweet against the Army chief and later released on bail. He alleged that first they "tortured" his chief of staff Shahbaz Gill, then journalist Jameel Farooqi and now “75-year-old Senator Azam Swati”. He told his supporters that he is there to tell them what freedom is.

"Free men rule the world," he told his supporters. "I want to convey a message that we are humans and not sheep," said Khan. Khan also urged army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to probe the allegation of torture by Swati against two army officers. He claimed that incidents of torturing people and threats have increased ever since the military officials, named by Swati, have come into power in Islamabad.

Imran Khan begins 'long march' for early Pakistan elections | Top pointsImran Khan begins 'long march' for early Pakistan elections | Top points

Ahead of Khan's long march, PTI leader Swati at a press conference in Islamabad on Friday held two military officials responsible for his custodial torture and called for them to be removed from their posts. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on social media that elections would be held at the constitutional time and there is “no possibility of negotiations with Khan's party.

“Negotiations and consensus among political forces on national issues is a part of the democratic mood,” Asif tweeted. “There is no possibility of the negotiations that PTI is making noise about. Let Imran Khan play this.” “Let Imran Khan play at this.

At present Indian media is giving him full attention and air time, enjoy it,” he said. Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also categorically ruled out any negotiations or talks with Khan. “I’ve categorically said this person is not worth talking to — he is a liar,” she said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad, adding that negotiations could not be done on the streets. Marriyum says "Imran’s narrative against army 'demolished in Pakistan, being celebrated in India."

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb attacked PTI chief Khan over Friday's speech in which he critcised the army’s top brass. “This narrative has been destroyed in Pakistan, Imran Khan sahib, and is now only being celebrated in India,” she said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has formed a nine-member committee to look after the law and order situation amid the PTI’s long march to Islamabad, state-run PTV reported.

The committee is headed by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and includes Marriyum among others. After Khan’s speech, the protest march began moving towards capital Islamabad after spending the night in Lahore.

The long march dubbed as Haqeeqi Azadi March began from the Liberty Chowk area of the city on late Friday afternoon and the participants moved slowly as the PTI held power shows at Ichhra, Mozang, Data Sahib and Azadi Chowk areas of Lahore. It plans to travel on the historic GT Road and to arrive in Islamabad on November 4 to hold a big protest rally, which may be transformed into a sit-in.

On the second day, the convoy moved to Kamoke via Muridke. 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, home town of Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi who will welcome it. Khan will address a public gathering there. Later, the convoy will head towards Lala Musa and Kharrian.

The next day, the march will go to Jhelum where former federal minister Fawad Chaudhary was expected to greet the convoy. Then Khan will travel to Rawalpindi via Gujar Khan. PTI convoys from north and south of Punjab will also join the long march at Rawat in suburbs of Islamabad from there to march into the capital city.

According to Khan, the purpose of the march was to achieve real freedom by forcing the government to announce snap elections. He has promised to remain peaceful, and stay from the high security Red Zone housing state buildings and embassies, but many doubt his pronouncements due to past history of U-turns. He has sought permission to hold the rally which has not been granted 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 has also asked the party to specify the places for their gathering and also inform the administration 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 the violence may erupt if the marchers were forcibly stopped to enter the city. In a separate interview with Dunya News TV, he said that PTI’s demand was early elections.

“We don’t want interference (by the army), we want elections,” Khan replied. To a question about the sit-in, he did not rule out the possibility by saying the “party has just begun”. Khan has been demanding early elections and threatening a protest march towards Islamabad to force his demands if the government failed to give a date for elections.

The term of the National Assembly will end in August 2023 and fresh elections should be held within 60 days. Khan, who was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, has talked about a 'threat letter' from the US and claimed that it was part of a foreign conspiracy to remove him as he was not acceptable for following an independent foreign policy. The US has bluntly rejected the allegations.

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