This ‘Azadi March’, or ‘freedom march’, is a protest demanding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation and dissolution of the assemblies. According to the protesters, the 2018 elections were not transparent and the administration was behind the ‘selection’ of the government. Despite three rounds of talks between the Government and JUI-F Shura members, a deadlock continues to persist at the time of this report.
JUI-F is a rightwing Sunni Deobandi politico-religious party in Pakistan. Just days before the protest started, the federal government banned Ansar-ul-Islam, an alleged militant wing of the JUI(F). Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Pakistan Peoples’ Party and some other stalwarts of the political opposition also took the opportunity to became part of the march to protest against the government.
Ironically in 2014, Imran Khan, the current Prime Minister led an Azadi March and sit-in lasting 126 days seeking ouster of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The protestors are provided with food and drinks by the organizers and during the sit-in, they offered prayers, recited verses of the Quran, and played games to pass time. There were a few Pakistani flags on show in the march and flags of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, i.e., the Afghan Taliban were also spotted in the crowd.