LAHORE: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid has warned the opposition parties of possibility of terrorism and coronavirus spread due to their joint protest rallies under the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
He also said the army was democracy, economy and stability of the country.
“Today I want to say to the opposition that there is a threat of coronavirus spread and also terrorism. I repeat this. And don’t say tomorrow that I said (knew) this already,” he told journalists at his weekly press conference here at the Pakistan Railways (PR) headquarters on Saturday.
“Listen carefully that there may be a crackdown (on the rallies) keeping in view the possible spread of corona and act of terrorism,” he warned. He reiterated his earlier statements about sweeping actions against the opposition (particularly the PML-N) before Dec 31 and fate of the PDM’s movement by Feb 20.
“I own the dates (Dec 31 and Feb 20) that I had earlier given,” he added.
Rashid said that efforts were being made to destablise Pakistan. “Conspiracy is also being hatched against Pakistan’s great and bold army. And foreign powers are involved in this. But I say that this country’s democracy, economy and stability is army,” he said.
“But Pakistan army is determined to thwart any effort of instability in the country,” he said.
He said Maulana Fazlur Rehman was going to play the religious card.
“You (Maulana) don’t know about the results of this. I say that whosoever is coming out to fight with the army is surrounded by the country’s enemies. So beware of this, otherwise you (opposition) will have no mention in history,” he threatened.
When asked why he is involving the institutions (army) in politics, he said he didn’t do like this.
“I mean that the army is standing behind this democratic government just as it supported the previous democratic governments.”
Asked whether or not there was a plan to disallow opposition to hold protest rallies on the pretext of coronavirus and terrorism, Rashid responded: “I know about the local and international situation. Terrorist organisations want civil war in our country.” He said the opposition must hold rallies under democratic norms. “But if it does anything wrong, the law will take its course,” he warned.
Earlier while speaking about his department, the minister said the PR had decided to outsource its 16 trains to the private sector under public private partnership mode.
“We have also constituted a three-member committee that will deal with such affairs. The committee has allowed the private companies to increase fares by five per cent. But if they increase more, we will get back our trains from them,” he explained.
He claimed the PR earned Rs1.418 billion from freight trains this month due to outsourcing of five goods trains to private firms.
Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2020