Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah announced on Tuesday that the federal government will not allow any riots in the name of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) long march, which is due to take place tomorrow (May 25).
He said the government will not allow the PTI to spread “chaos and disorder”.
“They will be stopped so they cannot propagate their misleading agenda,” he said while adding that PTI’s long march is not democratic.
Sanaullah said everyone has the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. However, he said that PTI doesn’t want a peaceful protest.
‘PTI has moved from abuses to bullets’: Interior Minister says no to PTI march
“Had they not spread anarchy, we would not have stopped them. These people [PTI] have moved from abuses to bullets. A police constable was killed in Lahore.” Rana Sana vowed to protect the lives and properties of the capital’s people “at all costs”.
The announcement has come after a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) political committee meeting with Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif where it was reportedly decided to stop Imran Khan-led Azadi March in the federal capital.
“Such tactics are equal to ruining the economy,” PM Shehbaz was reported as saying in reference to the long march while addressing the meeting.
‘We will lead the biggest procession in history on May 25’: Imran Khan
Meanwhile, despite the government’s decision, addressing a press conference in Peshawar, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that he will lead the biggest procession in Pakistan’s history on May 25.
He went on to say that the PTI has a right to stage a protest against the “imported conspiracy”.
“Did we protest when Bilawal staged a long march? Did we arrest him? Fazlur Rehman also staged a march, we said we would help them,” said Khan.
Khan lashed out at the government for conducting raids in Lahore, and for barging into homes of “innocent citizens”.
Long March: Khan asks judges and ‘neutrals’ to do the right thing
Addressing “those who call themselves neutral”, he said that they had taken an oath to protect the country’s independence and sovereignty. “You need to understand that the public is looking at you, and you will also be judged. You will be equally responsible if the country goes towards destruction.”
PTI’s long march: Islamabad likely to be fully closed on May 25
According to Geo News, after the decision to stop the long march, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah summoned the Pakistan Army for the security of the Red Zone in Islamabad.
Section 144 has also been imposed in the federal capital for two months. According to a notification, the restrictions have been extended up to one kilometre of the Red Zone.
Raids at PTI leaders’ house in Lahore
On Monday night and early morning on Tuesday, Punjab Police raided the houses of several PTI leaders, including former Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, Usman Dar, and Babar Awan.
In a video, the mother of PTI leader Walid Iqbal and daughter-in-law of Allama Iqbal Justice (retd) Nasira Iqbal shared the harassment her staffers had to through at the hands of the police.
During a raid of a PTI leader’s house in Lahore’s Model Town, police constable Kamal Ahmad was shot in the chest and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.
A first information report (FIR) was filed, stating that a police party, during a search operation in Model Town, rang the doorbell of Major (retd) Sajid Hussain’s house at 1:40am.
“Hussain asked his son Bukhari to fire straight at the police party. Bukhari, with the intention of killing, fired straight at the police party. A bullet struck the chest of Constable Kamal Ahmad, who was standing outside the house”, the FIR reads.
Both Hussain and his son Bukhari were arrested later.
The current Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Hamza Shehbaz on Tuesday attended the janaza (funeral) of Ahmad and blamed PTI for the constable’s death.
‘Azadi March is not against the government but the establishment’: Maryam Nawaz
Later in the evening, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said his “Azadi March” is not against the government, “but the establishment”.
She said the PTI chairman also launched “a malicious campaign targetting the judiciary, in which abusive words were used against the judges”
Speaking further about the long march, Maryam said the government was worried about PTI’s “nefarious designs”, and it has intel about the party amassing weapons for use against law enforcement agencies (LEAs).
The PML-N vice president pointed out that the PTI chairman should call his children to Pakistan for leading the “Azadi March”, instead of instigating Pakistan’s youth to lay their lives for him.
“Since they are Imran Khan’s sons, they will live abroad, and no one will touch them. They will remain in a safe and sound environment, while the sons of the soil — who spent their entire lives serving the country — will take bullets to their chests just because a person’s desire for power does not end?”