PTI should ‘change behaviour’, review security steps: Sana

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Says attack on Imran clear case of ‘religious extremism’

Staff Reporter

Islamabad

Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Friday that attack on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan is a clear case of religious extremism as the culprit has confessed in his leaked video statement.

While addressing the press conference, the minister said that intolerance is being mounted in the country and there is a dire need to curb this menace.

“We were facing the issue of religious extremism but now we have come across a new challenge of political extremism,” he added. He further said that Imran Khan should change his attitude. He also said that Imran Khan should re-evaluate his security arrangements and made appropriate changes to beef up the level.

Sanaullah termed the suspect’s second statement as against democracy.

Noting that the Punjab government had moved swiftly to suspend all the officers of the Gujrat police station, where the suspect was kept in custody and interrogated, he raised questions. “I am wondering how can someone release such a damaging statement of the suspect.”

He also asked whether the original statement of the suspect was leaked or deliberately released to the public.

He said Imran Khan must make better security if he wishes to continue with his long march, adding that further questions had been raised after a second video of the principle suspect emerged after phones of police staff was confiscated.

While commenting on the leaked video statement of the at-tacker, he said that making video viral is a danger ous practice. He said that it is matter of concern that FIR of the incident has not been registered so far. He said that perhaps PTI leadership wants to register FIR as per their own wish and desires.

The minister said that no efforts were made by the government to halt the long march, adding that the government is afraid of neither Imran Khan nor long march.

He said that Imran Khan is their political rival, not an enemy. “The PTI has levelled the allegations without any proofs. It can be extremely dangerous to viral the videos of the accused,” he maintained.

The minister said that four people have so far been killed in the long march. “The process of division has been deepened. It will have to consider how to end the attitude of intolerance,” he added.

He said that the PTI worker killed in Wazirabad was identified as Moazzam. “The prime minister has announced financial assistance for the persons killed in the long march,” he added.

Sanaullah asked why has the Punjab police waited so long to register a First Investigation Report about the incident nearly 24 hours after it took place.

“I think! they (PTI leadership) are managing the things,” he said, adding that “Without prior evidence, they have already blamed the federal government, which is condemnable.”

Defending the role played by the federal government in the entire incident, the interior minister said that they had already informed the PTI leadership and Imran Khan about security threats and federal government again informed them about the looming threats after the confessional video statement of the suspect went viral.

“I again urge him to install a [bulletproof ]shield on his container,” Sanaullah urged. Should another untoward incident take place, the interior minister said that the PTI leadership should remember it before issuing an irresponsible statement. “It is possible, these types of people could launch another attack, God forbid,” he said.

Responding to a question, he said leaders of PML-N have also faced religious extremism. He said PML-N condemns religious extremism.

Referring to a video of PTI leaders released after the incident, Sana quoted Asad Umar as saying that Imran Khan was aware of the threats and that party leadership had repeatedly warned him, but he insisted on continuing his protests.

Sana, on behalf of the federal government and the interior ministry, asked Imran and other PTI leaders to change their behaviour to avoid such incidents.

“We are not scared, nor do we want their long march to stop. However, these things must be brought to their notice. We hope our cautioning is not tossed to the wind but taken seriously,” he said.

He further said that it was “very saddening” that after the incident, the PTI leadership blamed “three people” for the attack, forcing their supporters to come out of their homes, riling up crowds and “waving weapons around”.

“This is the same language that Imran Khan has used from 2014 on his container uptil now,” Sana said, adding that this behaviour would drag the country away from democracy.

He said that it was “saddening that PTI chairman Imran Khan blamed people for his attempted assassination without any investigation or proof”.

He maintained that the incumbent government had expressed condolences and prayed for those injured because they considered the PTI “political opponents, not enemies”. He claimed that Imran was the one who turned his political opponents into enemies.

Sana claimed that the Punjab government — led by PTI allies — had to be blamed for any security lapse during the long march as they were mandated to ensure the security of the march or any other incidents in the region.

“[Punjab] Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi is responsible for this lapse as well,” he added.

Responding to a question, the minister did not rule out the possibility of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visiting Imran to inquire about his health.

He stated that the premier could “visit him as a gesture of goodwill, but this is under consideration, especially after his allegation against us yesterday”. He added that Shehbaz had not come to a decision but could take any call on the matter.

“We want to say on the record that we had reports from agencies, and it is not appropriate for you or your life to not heed this caution,” he said.

He maintained that if the situation escalates then the government’s statement was on the record.

 

 

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