Violence has escalated in Pakistan following skirmishes between government and PTI activists during anti-government protests headed by Imran Khan, the country’s recently deposed Prime Minister.

According to reports, Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister and Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, announced the long protest march earlier this month, seeking the dissolution of the National Assembly and a date for the next general election. Khan began his long march with thousands of followers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa before entering Punjab on his way to Islamabad.

As PTI workers arrived in Islamabad, police attempted to physically block them from proceeding to D-Chowk. Imran Khan had previously warned his followers not to leave Islamabad until the Shehbaz Sharif government declared a date for new elections.

In Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and other places of the country, videos emerged of a police crackdown on PTI leaders and supporters. As they entered Pakistan’s capital, PTI supporters set fire to the Islamabad Metro station.

The IG Police of Islamabad has issued a statement alleging that protesters flung stones at them, injuring eight Capital Police officers and seven Pakistan Rangers troops. He ordered the administration to assist the injured person with medical care.

The arrest of PTI leader Hammad Azhar by the police sparked violence in Lahore. After police arrested Azhar, who was spearheading a protest march in Lahore, fighting occurred. As a result, police opened fire on supporters assembled in the Liberty Chowk district of Lahore. Several women and children are said to have been hurt as a result of the police shooting.

In another incident, Faisal Abbas Chaudhry, a PTI worker, died after falling off a bridge near Batti Chowk in Lahore during the protest. PTI leader Shafqat Mehmood alleged that police shoved him off the bridge.

Despite the Pakistan government’s prohibition on the PTI’s long march, protests have taken place. As tensions rise in Islamabad, the Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan government has asked the army to intervene and protect the Red Zone.

Meanwhile, a crackdown has begun in cities, with police arresting hundreds of PTI workers and leaders in order to prevent them from participating in the ‘Azadi March.’ Section 144 has also been enacted by the government to limit large gatherings in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Karachi, and other important cities.

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