ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry has approved deployment of Rangers at the power show of the anti-government Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) outside the Lahore office of the National Accountability Bureau on March 26 (tomorrow) where PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz will appear in connection with cases against her.
Announcing the federal government’s decision, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told a press conference on Wednesday that the request for Rangers’ deployment had been made by the Punjab government in the light of anti-corruption watchdog’s plea for more security to avert any untoward incident.
NAB has claimed that a conspiracy is being hatched by some accused and their political supporters to attack its Lahore offices on March 26 and create hurdles in the performance of its legal duties.
The minister said police would serve as the first line of defence.
Rashid says PDM power show is not meant for government, but for PPP
He chided Ms Nawaz for obtaining protective bail and risking people’s lives by asking them to join the power show which, he claimed, was meant nothing but to capture media attention.
He said the Covid-19 positivity rate in Lahore was around 14 per cent and it was not advisable for the people to organise or join large-scale gatherings.
Sheikh Rashid claimed that there was a possibility of terrorist strikes in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad, adding that alerts had already been issued in these cities.
“I am not saying it to scare anybody, but life of a common man is as precious as mine,” the interior minister said.
He said that genuine politicians served as a shield for the people instead of using them as shield. He criticised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for inciting the people against the government while sitting abroad.
“You need to be Imam Khomeini for giving call from outside the country, which you are not, nor you are Mao Zedong, Karl Marx or Ho Chi Minh,” he said.
The minister said that Mr Sharif had befooled the entire nation by leaving the country, adding that a great politician lived and died in the motherland.
He said the PDM’s power show in Lahore was in fact a rehearsal for its upcoming long march against the government. He said that Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz attended court and NAB proceedings in a normal way and no call had been given for people to attend court proceedings.
He said the PDM’s power show was not meant for the PTI government, but the PML-N wanted to show its political muscle to the PPP in Punjab.
He claimed that PPP lawmakers would not resign from their assemblies’ seats and the only option left for the PDM would be to stage a long march, which too was bound to fail.
In reply to a question, Sheikh Rashid said that most of the cases being faced by PML-N and PPP leaders had been filed by the two parties against each other.
When asked about PTI’s working relationship with PPP, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan had formed a political committee for the purpose and added that talks should be held with all political parties. He said doors for talks should always be kept open in politics.
Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2021