Pakistani authorities have tightened security across Islamabad as thousands of anti-government demonstrators converge on the capital from across the country to demand that Prime Minister Imran Khan's government step down.
Demonstrators were traveling on buses, bikes, and private cars to gather in Islamabad by late evening on October 31 for a protest organized by Fazlur Rehman, leader of one of Pakistan’s largest Islamist parties – Jamiat Ulema-i Islam Fazi.
The party said he would oversee Friday prayers with the protesters before launching a demonstration in the capital.
Rehman says Khan is incompetent and his government was illegitimately installed by Pakistan’s military after a rigged election in 2018.
"We want the prime minister's resignation," Rehman said, insisting that a new "free and fair" vote held.
"The entire assembly is fake. We want to dissolve it," the cleric said.
Khan won Pakistan’s 2018 general elections on promises to end corruption, help middle-class families, and get the country's faltering economy on track.
Schools and some offices have been closed in Islamabad ahead of the arrival later on October 31 of protesters who have been marching from the eastern city of Lahore.
Rehman describes the demonstration as a "freedom march."
Late on October 30, he told reporters that his movement "will not stop if we don't get the desired results after reaching Islamabad."
Police spokesperson Zia Bajwa said a 17,000-strong force was overseeing security in the capital.
Police have reinforced checkpoints around Islamabad and have brought in extra barriers, including shipping containers, to block roads and seal off the administrative and diplomatic center of the city.