Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday announced that the federal cabinet had decided it will not permit the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to enter Islamabad from Peshawar at the culmination of its long march on May 25 (tomorrow).
Addressing a press conference alongside representatives of all coalition partners, he said the PTI could not be permitted to sow chaos and unrest in the garb of a “peaceful” march. “This is not a democratic march, or even a long march. This is solely intended to divide the nation and instigate chaos,” he said, adding that the party had been indulging in similar tactics since 2014.
Noting that the leaders of the PTI had repeatedly, and on the record, warned of bloodshed during the march and “dragging the incumbent government out by force,” he said the coalition government had decided that in view of all these threats and the actions of the PTI in 2014, it would not be permitted to enter Islamabad.
“[In 2014] they also promised to peacefully protest and remain at the site agreed upon with the administration. They violated this agreement and moved into the Red Zone; the covered the buildings of the Supreme Court and Parliament with dirty clothes—they gained this access by promising a peaceful protest,” he said. “They will not be permitted their agenda of disinformation and unrest,” he added.
“These people [PTI] have already moved from abuse to bullets, shooting dead a police constable in Lahore,” he said, referring to Constable Kamal Ahmad who was gunned down a by a PTI worker during a police raid in Lahore’s Model Town on Monday night.
According to Sanaullah, the PTI’s entire leadership was currently gathered in Peshawar. “They are using the resources of the province and its personnel to stage an assault on the federation,” he said. “They want to come as a mob that has no legal or constitutional status,” he said. “We cannot allow this.”
Urging the public to not fall victim to Khan’s disinformation, he said it was a national problem. “He directed party members during rallies to call political rivals robbers and traitors. He even urged women to tell their young children to abuse rivals … if they [PTI] can be stopped here and now, it would be a great service to the nation,” he added.
Saying all stakeholders—political parties, institutions, media, general public—must come together to “nip this evil in the bud,” the interior minister maintained that everyone had the right of freedom of expression and peaceful protest. However, he reiterated, the PTI did not want a peaceful protest. “Had they not talked about spreading anarchy, we would not have stopped them,” he claimed, adding that the Islamabad High Court had told the party it would be allowed to protest if it provided an undertaking that it would be responsible in case of any untoward situation. “They refused. This proves what their intentions really are,” he added.
Following Sanaullah’s address, coalition partners, including PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira; JUIF’s Asad Mahmood; MQM-P’s Faisal Subzwari; PMLQ’s Chaudhry Salik Hussain; and JWP’s Shahzain Bugti also supported the government’s decision, saying peaceful right to protest was justified but they could not support unconstitutional actions.