• Fazl demands action against those who torched public, army property
• Zardari says Imran should face courts instead of running away
• Dastgir insists PTI ‘more dangerous for Pakistan than India’

ISLAMABAD: The ruling coalition on Wednesday strongly condemned violent protests and the ransacking of public and private property by unruly mobs after the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan two days ago and vowed that no more aggression would be tolerated.

JUI-F emir Maulana Fazlur Re­­hman, who also heads the Pakistan Democratic Movement alliance, demanded the government take strict action against those who torched public properties, including those belonging to the military.

In a press conference in Islamabad, he said any institution that was trying to bring the PTI back to power would also be guilty and blamed Mr Khan’s government for not delivering a single development project in the past three and a half years.

PPP leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement that after the arrest of Imran Khan, riots in the cities were regrettable and shameful.

He said he was in jail for 14 years but never allowed party workers to take the law into their hands. “The acts of harming public property and spreading chaos will not be tolerated,” he added.

The former president said the PTI chief had been arrested in a corruption case and should face the courts instead of running away.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb strongly condemned attacks on the building and offices of state-run Radio Pakistan and the Associated Press of Pakistan in Peshawar.

“The attack on the offices of Radio Pakistan and APP by PTI’s armed gangs was condemnable and deplorable,” she said in a message issued by her office.

The minister said that following the pattern of a similar attack on PTV headquarters in 2014 allegedly on Mr Khan’s instructions, PTI workers on Wednesday attacked Radio Pakistan and APP buildings.

She asked Radio Pakistan’s director general to file an FIR against miscreants, who she said tried to stop government broadcasting by cutting off lines, which was a serious crime.

Ms Aurangzeb said violence against government employees, vandalism and damage to property were “acts of terrorism”.

She also condemned the protesters for setting on fire the Chaghi Mountain Monument and Radio Auditorium. She said at least 15 notices had been sent to Imran Khan in the Al-Qadir Trust case, which was being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau.

The minister also accused PTI leaders of instigating arson and sabotage after Mr Khan’s arrest on Tuesday.

She said that a day after the unrest erupted, the PTI leadership on Wednesday claimed that party workers did not do violent protests. “When the PTI workers were damaging public and state property [on Tuesday], why didn’t the leadership stop them from doing so?” she said.

Meanwhile, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said the constant contact and cooperation among the global states was a must to address pressing challenges faced by constitutional democracies.

“The rise of hybrid democracies, populism, nationalism, depleting level of truth, and rising migration is the existing threats to democracies,” he said.

Former senator Farahtullah Babar of the PPP said the constitutional democracies were facing challenges the world over, but these had been pronounced more in Pakistan.

Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan dubbed the PTI as a fascist party and accused it of being involved in destructive activities since 2014, targeting both public and private properties. “The party was more dangerous for Pakistan than its arch-rival India,” he said at a press conference.

He said some 78 police officers had been injured in the violent protests since the PTI chief’s arrest.

The minister also mentioned the instances when protesters torched an ambulance in Peshawar and how some of them took out their wrath on the military, torching the residence of the corps commander in Lahore and gathering outside the entrance to the army’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi and pelting it with stones.

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal alleged that the countrywide ransacking of public and private property was an outcome of a planned move of PTI.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2023

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