Interior minister says he’ll personally punish anyone who tries to malign the Pakistan Army
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Friday warned that he would ‘teach the opposition an unparalleled lesson’ if their long march on Islamabad was not conducted in accordance with law.
Addressing a rally in Rawalpindi to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day, he said that while it was the opposition’s constitutional right to protest, no one would be allowed to provoke unrest. Slamming the opposition parties for their “behavior” in Parliament in recent days, he claimed this had exposed their so-called “commitment to democracy.” The National Assembly, during the last week, saw lawmakers of both treasury and opposition benches facing off, with each day’s session marred by slogans and a refusal to proceed with normal parliamentary procedure.
Ahmed reiterated that no matter what the opposition did, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government was not going anywhere. “Khan will not only complete his term but also come to power for a second five-year term,” he claimed.
Criticizing the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) further, he took special aim at Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for threatening to bring protesters to Islamabad but backing down after being informed they would be welcomed with tea. He claimed the PDM had not held any rallies in Rawalpindi because they were “afraid” of the city’s residents.
“I had predicted at the outset that the opposition will not resign from assemblies. Now they are preparing to contest Senate elections, meaning they will seek votes from the same legislature that Maulana Fazlur Rehman had been cursing,” said Ahmed, claiming that Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari had used the PDM to “obtain bail in a corruption case.” He claimed that the entire alliance would unravel if PMLN Vice-President Maryam Nawaz were allowed to leave the country.
On the Kashmir rally, Ahmed said the oppressed people of India-held Kashmir had been suffering at the hands of Delhi’s brutalities for the last seven decades. “We salute Kashmiris for their continued struggle against the illegal and barbaric Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that Pakistan had always stood with the Kashmiris and would continue to do so until their right to self-determination had been ensured.
The interior minister also claimed that he would personally “pull out the tongue” of anyone who tried to “tarnish” the Army’s image.