Bloodshed feared as Pakistan braces for Azadi march on I-Day

Pakistan is all set to observe its Independence Day on Thursday, but looming large on the I-day celebrations is the Azadi march that is scheduled to take place from the eastern city of Lahore to the capital Islamabad.

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Aug 13, 2014, 16:32 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Islamabad: Pakistan is all set to observe its Independence Day on Thursday, but looming large on the I-day celebrations is the Azadi march that is scheduled to take place from the eastern city of Lahore to the capital Islamabad.

Despite PM Nawaz Sharif`s eleventh-hour appeal for a dialogue,  the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) of Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek are adamant to lead a mass demonstration to the capital city of Islamabad.

Speaking in a late night televised address, Sharif said, "I respect the right to protest within the limits of the law, but no one will be allowed to destabilise the country”.

"I invite Imran Khan for dialogue. I am an elected person and will listen to the demands of the opponents," added Nawaz.

However the PTI chief snubbed Nawaz Sharif`s offer, saying "Whatever happens, we will march on August 14. If you stop us, you will be digging your own grave”.

According to a report in the Dawn, the roads in Islamabad have been blocked off with containers and also cellular services have been suspended in many areas via which the protest march will proceed.

As the protests will escalate, there are fears of bloodshed, added the report.

Keeping in mind the vulnerable situation, security has been beefed up across the capital with more than 20, 000 forces being deployed across sensitive areas.

Also, cranes and barricades have been put up throughout the capital to block the entry of protest marchers.

According to a Dawn report, the road outside Imran Khan`s PTI office and access to Embassy road are also blocked by containers.

However, the Lahore High Court has passed an order directing the policemen to remove the containers.

A petition was filed in the Lahore High Court against Imran Khan’s `Azadi` march, saying it would fuel anarchy in the country.

Placing of containers has also drawn flak from ex ambassador Sherry Rehman, who has urged both the PTI of Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif`s N League need to pull back from the brink and address their grievances meaningfully.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan has demanded Nawaz Sharif`s resignation, claiming that last year`s election in May, were rigged.

In a tweet posted earlier, Imran accused Nawaz Sharif of buying people to stay in power.