Soon after the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to de-seat and disqualify former prime minister Imran Khan in the Tosha Khana reference, activists and supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Friday brought traffic and life in major metropolises of the country to a standstill.
Activists gathered at major intersections in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and blocked thoroughfares as they protested the ECP’s decision.
In some instances, they torched tyres, in others they refused to let traffic pass by forming a human blockade.
Protest in Islamabad
In the federal capital, PTI’s activist blocked the Faizabad interchange and Murree Road simultaneously. As a result, traffic entering and leaving Islamabad or those heading further north towards Murree was stranded.
The protestors also burnt the tyres and erected barricades on Murree Road.
Police resorted to firing tear gas to disperse protesters.
In neighboring Rawalpindi, PTI workers staged a demonstration at Bakra Mandi Chowk, within the constituency of Punjab Minister Raja Basharat.
Party workers raised slogans against the ECP’s decision.
Similarly in Jhelum and other parts of Punjab, small groups of protestors gathered at major intersections or thoroughfares and blocked traffic. In some instances, they did not allow even ambulances to pass.
Protests in Lahore
In Lahore, angry PTI protesters blocked the GT road which connects Gujranwala to Lahore. The biggest gathering of PTI supporters was at Liberty Roundabout and blocked traffic coming and going from all sides.
On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters distributed sweets to celebrate the decision.
Karachi at standstill
Similarly, in the economic hub of Karachi, thousands of vehicles stranded on its main artery, Shahra-e-Faisal as PTI activists blocked the flow of traffic in the Nursery area.
It took an intervention from enforcement officials to get traffic to start plying smoothly after a delay of two hours.
Some PTI protestors also blocked the road outside the provincial election commission office located on Shahra-e-Quaideen in Karachi. They raised slogans against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.
The protestors also forcibly closed shops in busiest area of Saddar, including one of the busiest markets, Zainab market. They created panic amongst passersby and commuters.
The protestors also forcibly entered the red zone in Karachi as they chanted slogans outside the Governor House.
A few hundred protesters at the toll plaza at the entrance to Peshawar, became violent and smashed the toll booths.
Just a few hundred protesters
Later in the day, the federal interior ministry released details about PTI protesters who had gathered across the country.
The data showed that at most, a few hundred protesters turned out to protest the Toshakhana Reference verdict.
The data showed that fewest protesters seen were at Margalla Stop on GT Road in Islamabad where seven to eight protesters were seen.
It added that the highest number of protesters seen at a single location was around 1,800 to 2,000 in Malakand and Chakdara in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.