LAHORE / BAHAWALPUR: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has alleged that PTI chairman Imran Khan wants a civil war in the country, but warned him that the nation will hold him by the collar for his ‘nefarious designs’.
“Imran Niazi wants to initiate a civil war in the country. But he is mistaken. The nation will never forgive him [for the sin] and will hold him by the collar,” Prime Minister Sharif said on Sunday in reply to a question about the long march on Islamabad the opposition PTI is planning to take out on May 25. This was his third visit in a month to the Pakistan Kidney & Liver Institute.
When asked if the government would call in the army to stop the long march, visibly upset at the query the prime minister replied that a decision would be taken if and when needed.
Speaking on the same issue in Bahawalpur on Sunday, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the government and its allies would decide whether the PTI long march should be allowed to enter Islamabad.
PPP confident people will reject PTI’s march; Sana says coalition will decide on permission to enter Islamabad
“If the coalition goes for action, we will not allow protesters to even come out of their homes,” he told media.
When told (in a TV talk in the evening) that the PTI leadership had promised to remain peaceful, Rana Sanaullah said he did not trust Imran Khan since he had a history of speaking “lies and taking U-turns”.
“Keeping in view the past record of PTI and its workers, my apprehensions are that they will come to Islamabad with the intent to cause anarchy.”
The minister said personally he wanted to detain Imran Khan for three days in the same cell where he was imprisoned for months in a cooked-up drug smuggling case. “Three days behind bars will wipe politics out of him.”
The premier said Mr Niazi had devoted all his time to victimising political opponents during his three-and-a-half years in power and did not spare time for welfare projects.
“The former prime minister didn’t have even a single moment to think about the welfare of the masses, while he remained riding the nerves of NAB [National Accountability Bureau] to victimise the opposition leaders.”
He alleged that Mr Khan had directed his ex-adviser on accountability Shehzad Akbar to ensure that Shehbaz Sharif, suffering from backache problem, would sleep on the floor during the NAB custody.
The prime minister lambasted the PTI chairman for using inappropriate language against Maryam Nawaz in PTI’s Multan rally and said it made the people hold their heads in shame.
He regretted that the PTI government had damaged the PKLI by blocking funds for the institute offering free treatment to the poor. He recalled that former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar visited the PKLI and asked about the Rs20 billion expenses incurred on the project, while corruption worth not a single penny could be detected in the project during the NAB probe.
About Shireen Mazari’s arrest, Rana Sanaullah said there was no involvement of the government or anyone else in her arrest.
The minister questioned the effectiveness of the cybercrime law and suggested that the government, opposition and media decide the matter in a way that it did not gag freedom of speech and also prevented misuse of the law.
The minister visited Bahawalpur to see arrangements for the May 28 PML-N rally in connection with Yaum-i-Takbir. He said the party would make the rally a memorable event in Bahawalpur.
Accusing Imran Khan’s government of burdening people with unprecedented price hike, PPP secretary general Nayyar Bokhari said people would fail the PTI’s long march.
In a statement, he said Mr Khan’s politics would not go ahead on the pretext of seeking support from the families of police officials, bureaucrats and military officials.
“Imran has turned hundreds of thousands of people jobless and now he will have to face their wrath,” he said.
Mr Bokhari said holding a public meeting was a legal right of every citizen but the government will not allow the PTI protesters to take the law in their hands and will be dealt with iron hands if they became violent.
Syed Irfan Raza in Islamabad also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2022