Govt sees ‘religious extremism’ behind attack on PTI chief

Published November 5, 2022
Interior Min­ister Rana Sanaullah addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Min­ister Rana Sanaullah addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Interior Min­ister Rana Sanaullah on Friday termed the attack on Imran Khan a case of religious extremism, asserting that his own party PML-N considered the ex-premier a “political rival and not an enemy”.

“Details about the attacker [who is] in custody will astound you,” he told a presser, hinting that he was linked with some religious extremist group.

A second video of the attacker showed that he was indoctrinated by extremists, he said. “The reasons described by the accused for his action are very alarming and dangerous. Such allegations were made in the past as well. And after the video went viral, it is possible that such narratives will be fuelled, and embolden more religious extremists.”

Mr Sanaullah also raised questions over the delay in registration of an FIR in the case and expressed concern over the leaked statement of the suspect caught from the crime scene. About the delay in the FIR registration, he said, “Maybe they are trying to manage this, which is very concerning.”

He said following the leak of the first part of the suspect’s statement, the entire police station had been suspended and even then another video emerged. He said the matter needed to be investigated.

The interior minister said there were already intelligence reports suggesting threats to the PTI chief’s life, which had been conveyed to the PTI, but they were ‘simply ignored’.

He said the allegations levelled by the attacker in the video that went viral were dangerous and could enhance the threat. He appealed to the PTI leadership to change their behaviour, warning that it could lead to another ‘accident’.

He said it was very unfortunate Mr Khan blamed “three individuals” for the assassination attempt without any investigation or proof. The PTI chief had been using same language since 2014 protests when he used a container for his sit-in in Islamabad, he said, adding that such behaviour was “not in the interest of democracy”.

Responding to a question about talks with the PTI, Mr Sanaullah said the opposing party’s response was public. “This is political extremism. They say they would rather die than sit and talk to us,” he said.

“How do we have a dialogue with them or talk about betterment under the prevailing circumstances?” he questioned.

He criticised PTI leaders for instigating people to take revenge from those they unnecessarily held responsible for the attack, and slammed a minister in PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for brandishing gun.

‘Immature statements’

Addressing a separate press conference, Adviser to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira criticised the PTI leadership for exploiting the political situation and inciting violence among their followers.

Mr Kaira, who belongs to the PPP, said the PTI leadership was continuously issuing immature statements against the politicians as well as the state institutions — it should be stopped.

“Just blaming the PM, interior minister and senior officer for the attack is irresponsibility — at least let the inquiry report come or if you have any proof please put that too in front of the public, but just making inflammatory statements was neither good for the system nor for the country,” Mr Kaira said.

In yet another news conference, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique said the entire political leadership had not only condemned the incident, but also prayed for the swift recovery of all the injured, including Mr Khan.

“PML-N had no enmity with Imran Khan and there were only some political differences between both parties,” Saad Rafique said.

He added there should be no politics over such incidents which could lead to chaos and anarchy, and condemned mob attack on the houses of Rana Sanaullah in Faisalabad and other important state buildings.

Citing Benazir Bhutto’s martyrdom, he said Asif Ali Zardari raised the slogan of ‘Pakistan Khapay’, but three PTI leaders started instigating the masses after the attack.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2022

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