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Islamabad braces for more chaos as government lockdowns capital

ISLAMABAD: It all started last Thursday when police officials raided an indoor youth convention in the federal capital and clashed with workers. Since then hundreds of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers have been arrested, almost all leading roads have been jammed by containers and political temperature has been boiling.

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Imran Khan, who also led a weeks-long occupation of Islamabad that paralysed the same government quarter in 2014 after rejecting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s decisive election win, has once again vowed that the planned November 2 protest in Islamabad would go as planned despite orders imposed banning public gatherings.

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The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government has been facing strong criticism for blocking the entire Punjab province preventing PTI workers and supporters from reaching Islamabad next month.

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Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Mushtaq Ahmed said PTI would need an official permission, in the form of a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC), to host any events, including November 2 shutdown strike.

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“You need an NOC for anything – whether it’s a media function or a marriage function. Even for a birthday party of more than five people, you need an NOC,” he said.

Imran Khan has claimed that next month protest would bring a million people onto the streets while the government fears sit-ins would force the closure of schools, public offices and the main international airport.

However, the PTI now claims that with shutdown it does not mean to block roads in the capital disrupting lives of the local residents.

 

Markets fall amid political tensions

On Friday, Pakistani shares fell on all days this week, bringing down the benchmark index below the 40,000 mark, as political tensions deepened between the government and PTI, spooking investors.

The benchmark 100-share index of the Pakistan Stock Exchange closed down 0.29 per cent, or 114.43 points, at 39,872.88. The index fell 3.4 per cent this week.

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