Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday vowed that the government would not grant PTI supporters permission to protest outside the Election Commission of Pakistan as it falls in Islamabad’s high-security “Red Zone” area.
In a press conference alongside Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, he said that the demonstrators will be allowed to hold their protest at the nearby F-9 Park or the Parade Ground. “But there will be no permission for protest in [the] Red Zone and anyone who tries to enter [the area] forcibly will be dealt as per law,” he warned. Sanaullah’s statement comes hours after senior PTI leader Asad Umar reminded supporters to protest outside the ECP offices in Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar today (August 4) against the commission’s verdict in the prohibited funding case.
The interior minister said that peaceful protest was everyone’s right in a democratic society. “We have allocated two spots for them. But if they indulge in violence then action will be taken.”
Referring to PTI’s “Azadi March” earlier in May, he said that the party had brought armed activists and ministers with them. “If this time they undertake any adventure, then they will be dealt with force,” he warned.
Sanaullah also said the ECP’s verdict had proven that Imran was a “foreign agenct” and PTI a “foreign-aided political party”.
“He took money to pollute Pakistan’s politics and infused hatred in it,” he alleged, vowing that the federal cabinet will take a decision against him Thursday.
“This foreign agent will be dealt with,” the minister promised.
Meanwhile, in response to a question, he explained that there was credible evidence against Imran and his party on the basis of ECP’s conclusions. “We are analysing the jurisdiction of the departments.
“If the government has the mandate to declare PTI as a foreign-funded party and present its reference before the Supreme Court […] And if the court upholds it […] Then the cabinet will move forward on it.”
However, he went on, if the Federal Investigation Agency or the police had the jurisdiction, they would proceed accordingly. “Working is being done on that. Requisite time will be taken to decide on this case,” Sanaullah said.
He also stated that PTI leader tried to “build a narrative” to show that the decision came out in their favour.
“Fawad is trying to maneuver a point that there is no mention of foreign funds. But the verdict shows that [PTI] is foreign-aided. Now there is no room for them to exit this.”
The minister added that the party would fulfill its legal responsibilities and do that as per law and not on the basis of personal grudge.
“PTI wants to spread chaos in the name of the protest,” the interior minister said, revealing that the coalition government has “received reports” and has found statements of Khan and Fawad Chaudhry regarding their plans of creating an anarchic situation outside the election commission.
He said that they [PTI] can attack the election commission; however, they should remember that the Islamabad High Court has imposed restrictions on staging protests in the Red Zone.