ISLAMABAD: Visibly frustrated by what it called judiciary’s undue facilitation to PTI Chairman Imran Khan, the ruling coalition on Friday announced staging a sit-in outside the Supreme Court on Monday.

While the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) attempted to present a united front, it was still uncertain whether MQM — whicht is not part of PDM but an ally of the ruling coalition — will take part in the demonstration or not.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the protest will be held “against the behaviour of the Supreme Court”.

“A big sit-in will be staged to express that the Supreme Court is the mother of law but not the mother-in-law,” Mr Rehman said, as he called upon the supporters to reach Islamabad for the sit-in.

MQM undecided over its participation

“Every citizen of the country will reach Islamabad on Monday and will hold a peaceful demonstration outside the Supreme Court,” he added.

Mr Rehman was speaking to the media after a meeting of PDM parties’ heads, also attended by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif from London. The meeting discussed the situation following the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision that gave blanket bail to Imran Khan in all his cases.

He said the protest will be peaceful, but warned if anyone “tried to harm us we will retaliate with sticks, fists and slaps.”

“We will try to achieve our goal peacefully but this will change in case of any hurdles,” he said, without specifying who would create the hurdles as PDM itself was in power.

The announcement of the protest has come at a time when Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) has been imposed in Islamabad by the local administration. The section bars the gathering of more than four people at any place.

Mr Rehman said PDM was not expecting the judges to deviate so much from the Constitution that they stop respecting the parliament’s supremacy.

“The country’s economy, morality, law and the Consti­tution have been put at stake today for Imran Khan and today everyone has to play their role for the sake of democracy,” Mr Rehman said.

When asked about Punjab elections, he said, “The issue of election is different. Taliban were declared traitors for conducting attacks similar to those carried out by PTI workers in the last four days. His [Imran’s] acts do not fall in the category of terrorism but mutiny and treason.”

‘Indecisive’ MQM

Initially, the PPP and MQM were unclear about their participation in the planned demonstration. Later, the PPP decided to join the sit-in, the party’s Secretary General Nayyar Bukhari said in a statement. However, MQM was still ambivalent about its support for the plan. A local party leader, Zahid Mehmood, said that a meeting was underway to decide on MQM’s participation.

NA session rescheduled

In a separate development, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday rescheduled the sitting slated for 5pm on Monday. According to the NA secretariat, the meeting will be held at 10am instead of 5pm.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2023

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