Police and protesters continued to clash in and around Islamabad on Monday as the country’s second-largest opposition party insisted it will push ahead with plans to “lock down” the Pakistani capital next week.
Police fired teargas to hold off thousands of activists from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by popular cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, on the borders of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, as they tried to make their way to the capital.
Khan’s party have planned a mass protest on Nov. 2 until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns or agrees to an investigation into corruption allegations.
“We are not going back. We will continue to move [towards Islamabad] despite blockades and [teargas] shelling,” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak told reporters at the historical Haroonabad bridge, which connects the province with adjoining Punjab.
“Today, they are stopping me from entering the capital, tomorrow I will not let the prime minister enter my province,” Khattak threatened.
Hundreds of party activists clashed with security forces outside Khan’s home in an Islamabad suburb, where he has been kept under house arrest.
More than 1,000 opposition activists were arrested in overnight raids in Islamabad and Punjab, while police sealed off the capital’s entry and exit points, local channel ARY reported.
Islamabad High Court earlier ordered PTI to hold their planned protest at a designated location instead of locking down the capital, but Khan said he will challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.
Prime Minister Sharif has been under pressure from opposition parties and the media after leaks earlier this year revealed his two sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz and his daughter Mariyam Nawaz owned offshore companies.
While the country’s Supreme Court is set to start hearing five separate petitions for investigation against Sharif, his children and son-in-law from Tuesday, Khan has said he will go ahead with the protest.
In August 2014, Khan led a similar protest in Islamabad in an attempt to force Sharif to step down or hold investigations into Khan’s claims of fraud during the previous year’s elections.