In Lahore, violence erupted between police and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters after the Mohsin Naqvi interim government suspended public gatherings in the provincial capital. The ban was implemented hours before the opposition party was scheduled to hold a planned election rally.
The ban, which will last seven days, was issued by the provincial Home Department due to the recent “wave of terrorism and threat alerts.” All activities that involve the gathering of people, including assemblies, gatherings, rallies, processions, and demonstrations, have been prohibited.
However, despite the ban on demonstrations under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Aurat March rally, marking International Women’s Day, was allowed to proceed. Hundreds of anti-government protesters defied the police and gathered in the Zaman Park neighbourhood, where former Prime Minister Imran Khan resides, prompting the police to detain scores of PTI supporters.
Police used excessive force, swinging batons and briefly firing tear gas to disperse protesters, and even sprayed water from a large truck, causing chaos on the road. Videos shared on Twitter showed police officials smashing car windows, prompting Khan to accuse the caretaker government of violating the rule of law, constitution, and democracy. He also questioned the legality of the government’s actions, claiming they were in contempt of the Supreme Court.
Senior vice president of the PTI, Fawad Chaudhry, tweeted that the ban on protests was “the new weapon of the fascist government” of Shehbaz Sharif and its “imperialist forces.” Chaudhry added that the people of Pakistan had always fought for their rights, highlighting the growing tensions and polarisation between the opposition party and the interim government in the lead-up to the elections.