Banning PTI only solution, insists interior minister

Published May 14, 2023
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah speaks to the media in Islamabad on Saturday. — Photo courtesy: PID
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah speaks to the media in Islamabad on Saturday. — Photo courtesy: PID

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Saturday said banning the PTI was the only solution and accused party chief Imran Khan of recruiting, organising, training and arming thousands of miscreants across the country over a decade.

Mr Sanaullah also criticised the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court for giving “extraordinary relief” to the PTI chairman in several cases — an assertion also hammered home on Saturday by other key ministers, including Climate Minister Sherry Rehman and Defence Minister Khwaja Asif.

Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, Mr Sanaullah even said that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari — who earlier this week turned down suggestions to ban the PTI — had not opposed the idea.

What Mr Bhutto-Zardari actually said, according to Mr Sanaullah, was that he did not like a ban on political parties but also stressed that “we will be compelled to do it if he (Imran Khan) does not change his behaviour”.

Alleges Imran recruited, armed, trained thousands of ‘miscreants’

On the judiciary’s role, he said the chief justice not only welcomed the “criminal” but also passed an order for Mr Khan’s stay at a government building as a guest with the freedom to meet visitors of his choice.

“This will have consequences”, he said, as it would encourage others to engage terrorists to achieve their designs.

The protesters who took part in the arson and vandalism of May 9 after Mr Khan’s arrest would not be spared, Mr Sanaullah said, repeating a warning also issued by the prime minister and the military over the past days.

He alleged all these “goons” burnt houses and defence installations on Mr Khan’s directives and warned that they would be identified through CCTV camera footage.

Sharing the number of protesters, he said some 40,000 to 45,000 people had participated during the three days of riots erupted after Mr Khan’s arrest in a corruption case on Tuesday.

He, however, could not give a clear reply when asked why the army had been called in under Article 245 of the Constitution if the number of protesters was so small and why the government appeared to be helpless despite the presence of thousands of law-enforcement officials.

Asked how the government would react in case of contempt proceedings were initiated over the failure to hold Punjab Assembly polls on May 14, he said: “Let it happen and we will see.”

‘No one is above Pakistan’

Meanwhile, Climate Minister Rehman accused Mr Khan of prioritising his own interests over those of the state, government and citizens.

“No one is above Pakistan, despite Imran Niazi’s messaging of being above the state,” she told reporters in Islamabad. “Imran Khan Niazi neither believes in politics nor in the democratic process. His tactics boil down to a premeditated bonfire of violence and chaos.”

She said the PTI chief was once again targeting state institutions, with his latest target being the army chief, as Mr Khan seemed desperate to cut a bargain. “But this time, no one is going to adopt him except his current connections in the courts,” she said.

The climate minister also highlighted what she said were injustices in the legal system and pointed out contrasts between the treatment of Mr Khan and other political leaders.

‘Unprecedented relief’

In Sialkot, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also questioned the alleged facilitation provided to Mr Khan by courts, insisting that the “unprecedented relief” given to the PTI chief has dented the judiciary’s impartiality.

The judiciary should act according to the Constitution and law instead of personal liking and disliking, he said at a presser at his home on Saturday, the state-run APP news agency reported.

On violent protests, he said if the army and police had reacted to those incidents, the state would have suffered and Mr Khan’s “ulterior motives” would have been fulfilled.

Jamal Shahid also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2023

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