Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Wednesday appeared to make his peace with the Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) planned long march to Islamabad on March 23, saying that the government will not create any hurdles but also warning that doing so would result in "political humiliation" for the opposition alliance.
The interior minister had previously urged the PDM to shift its march to some other day, saying leaders from different countries would be in the capital to attend an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit on March 23 — also the Pakistan Day.
PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman disregarded the minister's remarks on Tuesday, saying that the alliance would be moving forward with its plan to hold the "anti-inflation" march.
Addressing a ceremony in Rawalpindi today, Rashid said March 23 was very "sensitive" and roads — and possibly cellular services as well — will be closed due to the arrival of foreign dignitaries for the OIC meeting.
"If you want to anger them (representatives of OIC countries) for the sake of your personal politics then come on March 23 and don't [change the date]. Come on [March] 23 and God willing you will face a political defeat and be humiliated," Rashid said while addressing a ceremony in Rawalpindi today.
"We will create no problem for you if you don't create any problem for the law."
He questioned the purpose of the opposition's march, wondering if there was some "reason or agenda" behind it.
The interior minister claimed that the march would not see much public participation, asking what participation levels the "tractor trolley" had seen, apparently referring to the PPP's tractor march on Monday.
He hit out at the opposition's "inability to defeat" the government on any motion or bill during its three and a half years in power so far.
"I kept saying to them [to change their date] for a month. If they think they are very intelligent, if they were actually intelligent then maybe we might have faced a legal threat from them today ... now come on March 23 and be humiliated," Rashid reiterated.
The interior minister also said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the establishment enjoyed "very good relations".
Speaking on other matters, he said the premier's trip to China would yield "very good results".
Rashid also refused to comment on a question about any presidential system or emergency being imposed, saying the matter had not been brought up in the cabinet.