ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced that the government will clear the D-Chowk of protesters on Wednesday “at any cost”, if they don’t disperse by themselves in the night.
While addressing a press conference on Tuesday night, Nisar said “if the protest doesn’t end in the next one hour, then we will clear the Red Zone in the morning”.
It is not difficult to conduct an operation but there are innocent people in there who have been mislead, “we don’t want bloodshed and want this to end peacefully”, said Nisar.
“The government is trying its best to protect people’s lives, but will make sure that it ends tomorrow anyhow.”
Currently the administration is discussing the issue that who should be allowed to leave and who shouldn’t as some miscreant elements are using the protesters as human shields, he maintained.
A rally organised by the Sunni Tehreek (ST) saw more than 10,000 charged protesters enter the federal capital on Sunday, damaging buildings and setting fire to the metro station, containers and buses.
The interior minister held Punjab government responsible for the security lapse but went on to say that the religious parties violated the written commitments they had made earlier.
“The permission to hold the gathering to mark chehlum of Mumtaz Qadri was granted on the written assurance that the participants will disperse in the evening following the Asar prayers. But a section of the gathering violated the commitment and resorted to violence.”
Some people tried to do politics under the cover of a religious gathering, he added.
Qadri, an Elite Force commando, was executed at Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail on February 29. Qadri shot Taseer 28 times in broad daylight in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market on January 4, 2011.
Referring to the slogans chanted by the protesters, Nisar said “mere slogans don’t get you jannah, but you righteous actions do”.
“The Holy Prophet (PBUH) always kept his commitments. But unfortunately some people are carrying out violent activities in the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).”
Nisar maintained that legal action will definitely be taken against the people who caused damage to the state installations and announced that some arrests have already been.
A committee has been formed to closely monitor the security situation and access the shortcomings which lead to these people entering the Red Zone, he said.
We had already shared intelligence based information with the Punjab government, but it failed to control the situation and will be held answerable for its negligence, the interior minister said.
"But once the people had gathered, regardless of how, then it would have been inappropriate to exercise force against them."
Additional reinforcements have been called and written orders have been passed that if there is a need to conduct an operation, then no security personnel — even an officer — will be armed, asserted Nisar.
The clean-up operation will be done in broad daylight in front of media so that everyone is witness to “who does what”, he said.
“I am thankful to the media for being sensible in handling the issue.”
The Islamabad district administration had earlier given the pro-Qadri protesters gathered outside Parliament House a two-hour notice to disperse.
The sit-in continued despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Monday night address to the nation during which he warned radical Islamists not to take the government's leniency as a sign of weakness.
The address followed a massive suicide bombing at Lahore's Gulshan-i-Iqbal park in which at least 72 people were killed.
The army responded by launching raids on suspected militant hideouts across Punjab.
More than 200 suspects have been detained in the raids in the past 48 hours, a security official said.