Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif left his camp office in Islamabad to head back to his residence in Raiwand, Lahore.
However, instead of choosing to fly or go home silently, PML-N has decided to give their leader a farewell that will keep GT Road clogged for at least the next 48 hours.
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While Twitter and Facebook are already abuzz with proponents and opponents of PML-N posting away their take on the long march, we take this opportunity to revisit the history of GT Road and the many political caravans that have passed through it.
The politics of “Long March” began in Pakistan in 1992 when Benazir Bhutto formed a political alliance by the name of National Democratic Forum and began a long march against then Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. She claimed that Sharif and his party had played foul and rigged the elections.
Before either Benazir (leading the long march from Lahore) or her mother, Nusrat Bhutto (leading a caravan from Larkana) could reach Islamabad, they were violently tackled by the police. Nusrat Bhutto was badly injured during baton charge and sent to the hospital while Benazir was booked and kept in house arrest in Larkana.
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In 2008 the Pakistan Bar Council organized a long march for the restoration of the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhary and other judges who had been removed from their positions by former President Pervez Musharaff. The march was initially unsuccesful as then Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani launched a campaign of violence and mass arrests against the protesters.
In 2009 PML-N Chief, Nawaz Sharif joined hands with the Lawyers’ Movement in 2009. The entry of a major political party forced the government to restore the judges.
Imran Khan, known for his long march politics first experimented with this tool in 2012 when he led a caravan of protesters from Islamabad to Waziristan to protest against U.S drone strike sin the tribal areas of Pakistan. This journey however, was not taken through GT Road.
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After spending many a days and nights in his insulated container (while his followers slept under the open sky braving the chills of January), Qadri finally signed a deal with a government and left in haste.
In 2013 Tahir-ul-Qadri organized a million march from Lahore to Islamabad. Little known outside his stronghold in Punjab, Qadri rose to national fame with his promises to bring about a revolution that would put an end to corruption and discrimination.
In August 2014 PTI Chief Imran Khan announced the “Azadi March.” This was Khan’s way of protesting against the ruling PML-N for alleged rigging in the 2013 elections. The caravan that started out from Lahore took over 24 hours to reach Islamabad.
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PAt Chief, tahir-ul-Qadri once again returned to Pakistan in 2014 and announced a long march of his own (co-coinciding with PTI’s Long March)
The sit-in that started in August 2014 lasted a record four months. However, having come under heavy criticism and witnessing dwindling popularity, Khan finally announced an end to the “dharna” following the tragic attack on Army Public School, Peshawar that left Pakistan in shock.