Govt warns PTI of ‘dire consequences’ if rally turns violent

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Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Monday warned the PTI of “worst repercussions” if its protesters resorted to violence, created chaos or indulged in blackmailing during the party’s upcoming protest on August 13.

“Remember that you will be allowed to hold peaceful protests […] it is your constitutional right […] but if you use violence or threaten and blackmail [the government] then there will be repercussions worse than May 25 […] we are prepared for it,” he said.

Sanaullah was referring to the party’s long march to the capital earlier this year when its supporters dislodged containers placed to impede their advances and braved tear-gas shelling to somehow reach the D-Chowk in the capital.

His statement comes a day after PTI chairman Imran Khan said that he would announce a strategy to “counter the fascism” of the coalition parties.

Talking to media persons in Faisalabad, Sanaullah hit back at the former prime minister, and accused him of constantly changing his plans, which he said was reflective of the fact that he himself was unsure of what to do next.

“Now he has called a jalsa and said that an ultimatum will be given,” the minister said. “[He will issue an] ultimatum for what? To call elections? But what happened to you wanting to remove the chief election commissioner?

“First, remove the CEC, dissolve assemblies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, get your [National Assembly] resignations accepted and then talk about elections,” Sanaullah said, adding that until the route he mentioned was taken, the PTI’s demand for fresh polls would count as a sham.

He reiterated that holding protests was every person’s constitutional and democratic right. “But we won’t allow any person or party to create inconvenience at any cost.”

Talking about the negative social media campaign on the tragic incident of army helicopter crash amid flood relief operation in Balochistan, the minister said that the army’s role in the country’s protection, whether it was related to national security or natural disaster, was “honourable”.

“Today, I want to clarify that in this nation of 22 billion people, you won’t find one person who doesn’t love the army or doesn’t respect its sacrifices,” he asserted.

“I believe that those who create these trends have been led astray. And I have said this multiple times that this man, who is the head of the PTI, is misleading the nation and dividing the youth,” Sanaullah alleged, calling on the public to reject Imran.

He warned that if the PTI chairman was not rejected today, he would “mislead the nation towards an untoward situation that none of us want”.

The minister went on to say that the Election Commission of Pakistan’s verdict in the prohibited funding case had proven that Imran was a “foreign agent” and responsible for creating “chaos and anarchy” in the country.

He further promised that all the people “responsible for leading the nation astray” will be punished. “We have formed two committees in the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency), one will initiate inquiry against the hateful comments against the military and the other will probe foreign funding.

“Let me promise you today that every person named in the inquiry will be booked and arrested,” Sanaullah added.

 

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