Pakistan: Clash between police and anti-government protesters, tear gas fired

Islamabad high court ruled that opposition politician Imran Khan could hold a mass protest this week but warned against demonstrations disrupting life for citizens. Photograph:( Reuters )

Islamabad, Pakistan Nov 01, 2016, 12.49 AM (IST)

Police in Pakistan used tear gas on hundreds of anti-government protesters to stop the crowd headed for capital Islamabad, news agency Reuters reported.

Islamabad high court ruled that opposition politician Imran Khan could hold a mass protest this week. The court dismissed the government's objection to Wednesday's protests but ordered that the demonstration be held on a parade ground far from the city's main government and commercial districts, Geo Television reported.

The court, however, warned that demonstrations should not disrupt life for citizens, according to media reports. 

Barricades were set up on major roads, particularly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province ruled by Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, on Monday morning.

The crowd approached roadblocks amid clouds of tear gas near the town of Swabi, about 70 kilometres from Pakistan's capital Islamabad, Reuters reported.

Around 5,000 party workers were trying to remove the police barricades using cranes near the Swabi Interchange, The Dawn reported.

Khan has vowed to bring millions of people out onto the streets to agitate against prevailing corruption and Panama Papers' revelations about his family's offshore wealth. He has threatened to "shut down" Islamabad in his bid to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Khan accuses of corruption linked to the "Panama Papers" leak.

Escalating political tensions have led to periodic clashes between supporters of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and the police, who have arrested scores of opposition workers and used tear gas to disperse protesters. 

Party lawmaker Arif Alvi and another senior party official, Imran Ismail, were briefly arrested on Monday. They were released on orders of the interior ministry soon after.

Ismail posted a tweet about his arrest and a picture of the two men smiling.

 

 

 

A gathering of more than five people was outlawed last week in Islamabad and neighbouring Rawalpindi.

The Panama documents show that Sharif's children owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, Reuters reports, but Sharif's family has denied any wrongdoing. Khan admitted that he owned an offshore company in May. He claims it was to legally avoid paying taxes in Britain on a London property sale. The case regarding the allegations will be heard in Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday.

(With inputs from Reuters)