The PTI’s ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest drive) has commenced from Lahore which former prime minister Imran Khan says is aimed to counter the “attack” on the party’s fundamental rights and the economic “meltdown”.

In a video message, PTI Vice President Fawad said that numerous party leaders and workers, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Ejaz Chaudhry and more, had given themselves up for arrest.

“Around 500-700 PTI workers have given themselves up for arrest,” he added. Chaudhry claimed that the police had arrived prepared with police vans but were “worried at seeing the thousands of people and contemplating what they should do”.

He thanked PTI workers for their response and said the movement would move forward, adding that today’s centre of protests was Lahore which would continue till the evening and then it would move to Peshawar for tomorrow (Thursday).

There were no reports of arrests so far by the police.

The PTI shared footage of its leaders, including Qureshi and Azam Swati, in a police van and said that the ones to arrest them were missing.

Speaking from inside the van, Qureshi said he was “happy and satisfied” at the PTI vice chairman giving himself up for arrest first. He called on the people to “break the shackles of fear” and venture out.

Umar and Omar Sarfraz Cheema were also with them.

A Dawn.com correspondent verified that the PTI leaders had forced themselves into the prison van.

In a series of tweets earlier in the day, Imran said: “Today we start our Jail Bharo campaign for Haqeeqi Azadi for two main reasons.

“One, it is a peaceful, non-violent protest against the attack on our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights. We are facing sham FIRs and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases, custodial torture, attacks on journalists and social media people.”

Second, Imran went on, the drive was against economic meltdown “brought on by cabal of crooks who have money laundered billions in looted wealth and gotten NROs for themselves while crushing the people, especially the poor and middle class, under the burden of spiralling inflation and rising unemployment”.

PTI’s official Twitter account tweeted pictures and videos of party leaders including Asad Umar and Azam Swati converging at Lahore’s Charing Cross as the movement commenced from the Punjab capital.

Separately, in a video message shared on PTI’s official Twitter account, the ex-premier urged people to take to the streets for “true freedom”.

“Actually, this campaign will take you to a free and happy Pakistan. And this will only happen when the state protects your fundamental rights,” he said, adding that the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ “is the name of jihad”.

Imran also said that the more people participated in the drive, the faster Pakistan would achieve “true freedom”.

The drive will begin from Lahore’s Mall Road at 2pm today.

announcement made today by the Chinese bank of 700m dollars; is this why ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ is being held?”

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