Pakistan government has taken a bold decision to stop the long march of ousted premier Imran Khan and decided to launch a crackdown against the members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) throughout the country in a bid to stop them from marching towards the capital Islamabad.
Police authorities have started raiding houses of senior members of the PTI in the major cities of Pakistan and have already taken into custody over 600 supporters of PTI, who were gearing up to join Imran Khan's long march towards Islamabad.
In raids across the country, especially in the Punjab province, the police arrested PTI supporters, while forcing senior members of the party to go into hiding.
Police authorities maintain that the arrests are being made under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO), under which anyone can be taken into custody for a period of at least 90 days.
As per reliable sources, a list of at least 350 senior members of PTI has been prepared and has been forwarded to the relevant security quarters to initiate raids under MPO.
"The list has been forwarded to relevant police stations by the CCPO office and respective DSPs have been told to monitor the crackdown," revealed a source.
Some of the senior members of PTI whose houses have been raided include Babar Awan, Hammad Azhar, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Ali Naveed Bhatti, Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, Malik Nadeem Abbas, Yasir Gillani, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Saadia Sohail, Ijaz Chaudhry, Akram Usman, Aqil Siddiqui, Amir Riaz, Mohammad Haider and others.
On the other hand, the provincial government of Punjab province has decided to impose Section 144 across the province and call in Pakistan Rangers to ensure security of the provincial capital Lahore.
The federal government has also decided to ensure that all measures are taken to secure the capital, especially its Red Zone, where President's house, Prime Minister's house, Supreme Court, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PTV headquarters and the Diplomatic Enclave are located.
Section 144 has been imposed in and around the red zone, which as per rule bars gathering of over four persons. The federal government has also decided to call in the services of Pakistan Army to ensure security of the Red Zone citing fears of escalation in security situation because of Imran Khan's long march.
"We will not allow Imran Khan's long march to attack the state and make lives of people difficult. His political party was asked by the Islamabad High Court to submit an affidavit assuring that they will remain peaceful and will not move any further from the Srinagar Highway in Islamabad, the venue of the protest. But they refused. This confirms the intent of Imran Khan and his march," said Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
While the government has rejected Imran Khan's demand and also his call for the anti-government long march, Imran Khan has said that he will not stop at anything and will launch his long march from Peshawar towards Islamabad on Wednesday, and vows to not leave until his demand of early elections is met.