PESHAWAR: The Punjab Police on Monday fired tear gas to scatter hundreds of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protesters heading for Islamabad via the Swabi Interchange on the motorway under the leadership of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, as the party workers tried to remove containers from the road linking KP to the federal capital. Sources said that barricades had been placed on both sides of the motorway, but the PTI workers came with cranes to remove the containers. Law enforcers fired tear gas shells at Pervez Khattak’s convoy, as the protesters attempted to enter Punjab. Talking to this scribe, Adviser to KP CM Mushtaq Ghani strongly condemned the shelling by Punjab Police – even on women and children – and claimed that the law enforcers also fired rubber bullets, injuring some of the PTI workers. He said that the PTI workers did not have any weapon or other prohibited thing, and they were just waiting on the bridge when the shelling started. He asserted that the federal government would have to explain the alleged torture of peaceful protesters. The clash came just two days ahead of the PTI’s ‘lockdown’ of the federal capital against Nawaz Sharif’s alleged corruption, revealed in Panama Papers. The law enforcers had once again blocked the motorway at Burhan Interchange to ward off intending participants of the Islamabad sit-in. They had also placed shipping containers at the Rashkai Interchange and Khairabad Bridge, while the Peshawar-Islamabad motorway was closed at the Swabi Interchange. Barricades were also placed on roads coming from Mardan and Nowshera and heavy contingents of police and FC personnel had been deployed on the roads to keep the PTI supporters at bay. Until the filing of this report, the convoy of the KP CM had reached the Burhan Interchange, where the police again fired tear gas shell at them. PTI activists, following the call of their leader Imran Khan, began reaching Islamabad and Bani Gala on Monday as the protest day neared. Earlier, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that the PTI workers led by Pervez Khattak would break the blockade at Swabi and reach Bani Gala at any cost. “We did not do anything against Nawaz Sharif in KP because we believe it’s their right,” he said while referring to the premier’s recent public gathering in the province. He warned the policemen in and around Bani Gala to leave the area, “otherwise the workers from KP and those already in the area would forcefully remove them”. He appreciated the courage of PTI workers and leaders, who were trying to get there despite being harassed in different areas of Islamabad and Punjab. He congratulated the PTI’s Punjab leader Ejaz Chaudhry and other PTI workers for reaching Islamabad on foot. He also praised PTI lawyers, women and workers for remaining steadfast despite government pressure. Earlier, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior said the prime minister had issued directives for the removal of all barricades on the highways linking KP to Punjab. Political tension has sparked periodic clashes between PTI supporters and the police, who have arrested scores of opposition workers and used tear gas to disperse protesters defying a citywide ban on public gatherings. Party lawmaker Arif Alvi and another senior party official, Imran Ismail, were briefly detained on Monday, and bundled into a police van near Khan’s home. On social network Twitter Ismail said he had been “arrested brutally”, and posted a selfie picture of the two men smiling on the way to a police station. However, the interior minister swiftly ordered their release. Last week, the government outlawed gatherings of more than five people in Islamabad and neighbouring Rawalpindi. Scores of PTI workers have been arrested since, the party said. The PTI chief has vowed not to back down unless Nawaz Sharif resigns, or submits to investigation regarding the Panama Papers leaks.