• Calls out Imran’s hypocrisy, says events of May 9 ‘celebrated in India’
• PTI lawyer Ali Zafar confident SC will overturn any such action ‘within a day’

KARACHI: The government is considering banning the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the wake of the incidents of violence that unfolded on May 9, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference, he said: “A decision has not been taken yet [on the ban], but a review is surely underway,” adding that the matter would be referred to parliament for approval.

Referring to the events of that fateful day, Mr Asif asked rhetorically: “Is there a crime that didn’t happen on May 9?”

“The PTI has attacked the very basis of the state, that has never happened before. It can’t be tolerated.”

“The ISI office was atta­cked, they tried to enter the Cantonment in Sialkot but that attack was repulsed… they also set fire to the Lahore Corps Commander’s house. The PTI challenges the foundation of the state by attacking defence installations.”

Mr Asif went on to say that there was clarity amongst everyone that such actions “could only be done by India and not someone who is a Pakistani”, adding that the neighbouring country rejoi­ced at the events of May 9.

The minister further stated that the army’s reservations regarding the violence in the country on May 9 were “valid”.

He said that dealing with the current situation had resulted in a fresh quagmire. The coalition government will take every step to prevent others from targeting the armed forces in the future, he vowed.

The minister said that May 25 will be celebrated and tribute would be paid to the country’s martyrs, clarifying that honouring martyrs was the norm the world over.

“Till now, he (Imran) has not condemned [the violence] in clear words. He says that he did not know, he was [in custody]. He had his phone… he repeatedly said that this reaction was expected and will happen again if he is arrested,” Mr Asif added.

Addressing the presser, he said, “All the steps taken by Imran Khan after April 9 have cost him. We did not harm him. He is suffering due to his own actions.”

Discussing the anatomy of the possibility of a ban, Mr Asif also pointed out the ‘hypocrisy’ of the ex-PM, claiming that he based his entire political career on help from the army itself, and today had decided to take a ‘U-turn’ by standing against the establishment. Whatever I am saying is also being said by all the members leaving PTI, he claimed.

Mr Asif also claimed that all vandalism of military installations and violence were ‘coordinated attacks planned by Imran’, Dawn.com reported.

“There is a lot of evidence and their people are telling themselves that they were briefed about this beforehand,” he said. “I feel that Imran’s struggle of a year… all his plans failed and this was his last resort against the country’s army.”

‘SC will nullify ban in a day’

In response to this press conference, PTI lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar dismissed the possibility of a ban on the party, it was likely to be declared “null and void within a day” by the Supreme Court as a political party cannot be banned.

Mr Zafar said any such move would be challenged in court. He said an entire party cannot be blamed for acts committed by individuals.

“An attempt had been made to ban Jamaat-i-Islami a long time ago but the Supreme Court ruled that a ban cannot be imposed as it was a basic right of everyone to create a political party,” Mr Zafar told Geo News.

He also said that vandalism during riots was an individual act against which actions should be taken but a party cannot be banned on its basis. He also mentioned that there were different laws for dealing with any community creating chaos and spreading terror.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023

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