ISLAMABAD: The ‘media team’ of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Thursday blatantly accused Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan of planning to fan terrorism in Islamabad with the help of religious extremists and banned groups.

“We have reports that not only is he training 500 workers in arson and sabotage activities and distributing weapons to them, but Imran Khan is also in touch with groups that do not need any training in this regard,” PML-N legislator Daniyal Aziz told a press conference at the Press Information Department.

Flanked by minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, the PML-N MNA from Narowal hinted that the ‘trained groups’ that Mr Khan was trying to woo were possibly Taliban fighters, making a thinly veiled reference to Maulana Samiul Haq, who heads the Haqqania seminary in Akora Khattak.

“We have reports that they are trying to get workers of such groups to whom they have given millions in grants from public funds,” he said, referring to the controversy surrounding a budgetary grant allocated to the seminary.

Samiul Haq denies contacts with PTI; NCHR head worried by plans to ‘shut down’ capital

“Look what happened when the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) attacked Karachi airport,” he said, before recounting other incidents of terrorism, including bomb blasts on railway tracks or gas pipelines. Training his guns on PTI leaders, he accused the party of harbouring such elements and trying to pit them against the citizens of Islamabad.

“We had to launch the operation Zarb-i-Azb after the Karachi airport attack; now, the nation is in no position to go back to that state of affairs,” he said.

Explaining his views, Mr Aziz said that PTI workers were mostly soft and literate citizens, while the more hardened supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri would not be part of the protest this time; therefore, Imran Khan was seeking the support of extremists.

“But I ask him: what service is he doing to his country and democracy through such actions,” he added.

Dr Chaudhary, who is an MNA from Islamabad, interjected, saying that the residents of Islamabad had rights too, which were guaranteed under the Constitution.

“I assure that the government will protect the rights of the citizens,” he said, adding, “We are not trying to create fear or panic through this information.”

Meanwhile, Maulana Samiul Haq has denied any contacts with the PTI.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday in connection with an upcoming Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) rally scheduled for Oct 28, the head of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam said that if a formal invitation was received, a decision on whether to participate in the PTI’s protest would be made after consultations with his party and other DPC members.

Retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chohan, who is the chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), has also expressed concern over the threat to close down Islamabad on Nov 2.

In a statement, he said that closing down Islamabad related to life and liberty, a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 9 of the Constitution.

“Holding a rally with the purpose of closing down a city and disrupting movement, business and the day-to-day working of citizens infringes on fundamental rights,” the statement added.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2016