ISLAMABAD - In a major breakthrough, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf yesterday cancelled its November 2 plan of ‘Islamabad lockdown’, ending the five-day-long extreme tension with the government.

With the announcement of PTI Chairman Imran Khan to cancel its earlier plans to lock down Islamabad over the Panama leaks, the whole country heaved a sigh of relief as the ruling PML-N removed all blockades on the major roads of KP and Punjab leading to the federal capital.

The announcement also ended five-day-long skirmishes between police and PTI workers in different parts of the country and a crackdown of police and other law-enforcement agencies on the party’s supporters in Punjab and Islamabad came to an end.

However, the decision of PTI drew criticism on the social media as it was described as a U-turn of Khan or face saving while some political analysts viewed the decision was face saving for both-PTI and the ruling PML-N.

The PTI chairman had announced to lock down Islamabad on November 2, demanding accountability of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family for having offshore wealth as revealed by the Panama leaks. Khan had said their protest would continue unless Prime Minister resigned or presented himself for accountability. However, the party was facing difficulties in gathering a sizeable crowd as the government had restricted the movement of PTI workers from Punjab and KP, the two provinces where the party enjoys support, by blocking roads and making arrests through the imposition of Section 144 that prevented political gatherings. Thus the Supreme Court’s decision provided a room to the party to withdraw its lockdown plan.

Following the decision of the Supreme Court to form a judicial commission to probe the Panama leaks, PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced from his residence in Bani Gala that the lockdown plan was being cancelled. He said the lockdown plan had now been transformed into ‘thanksgiving programme’ and asked his party workers to gather at the Parade Ground of Islamabad today to celebrate the party’s struggle against corruption.

“Go home and rest. You have to return to Islamabad tomorrow to celebrate thanks-giving day,” Khan told his supporters. “We will put one million people together tomorrow (Wednesday) and this will be a Youm-e-Tashakkur,” Khan said and added he was happy as the investigation into the corruption of Nawaz Sharif would begin day after tomorrow.

He thanked all those who remained part of his ‘struggle against corruption’. He said he was grateful to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and his team as they had done this for Pakistan and for the future of the children of this country. He praised Khattak and his supporters for facing police shelling while they were trying to enter Islamabad from KP.

“Today I am so happy that day after tomorrow Nawaz Sharif’s accountability will begin,” the PTI chief said. He alleged the PM had been avoiding accountability for the past seven months. He said they knocked at the door of every institution of the country, including parliament, NAB, FIA and FBR, to get justice but all in vain, and at last they decided to go to the public.

Khan commended the Supreme Court for its decision and congratulated all his workers who faced difficulties during his struggle and those sitting in jails.

He also demanded the government release all of his workers who are in jails.