A province in Pakistan has banned public gathering of more than four people in Lahore for seven days, hours before former Prime Minister Imran Khan was scheduled to address an election rally in the eastern city.

The government in Punjab – Pakistan’s most populous province – on Wednesday said the ban was imposed on “holding all kinds of assemblies, gatherings, sit-ins, rallies, processions, demonstrations, […] protests and such like other activities across the district Lahore to avert any untoward incident”, according to local media reports.

The restrictions came hours before Khan’s Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was scheduled to hold a rally in the city to kick off its campaign for the Punjab provincial assembly election.

Lahore is the provincial capital of Punjab, where polls – due on April 30 – were announced after the dissolution of the provincial assembly. Khan’s PTI had called for the dissolution in a bid to force early national elections in Pakistan.

The government of his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, has dismissed Khan’s demands, saying the vote will take place as scheduled later in the year.

The ban on protests and rallies in Lahore also came ahead of a Women’s March to mark International Women’s Day.

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