‘No party will be allowed to block routes in Islamabad’
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Saturday that he had advised Prime Minister Imran Khan to call elections after presenting the federal budget for fiscal year 2022-23 as his popularity had increased following the opposition’s submission of a no-trust resolution against him.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he stressed that the idea for early elections was his own “opinion” and should not be taken as the PTI’s stance.
Terming the opposition “foolish”, Rashid said their move had taken the prime minister to a level of popularity where “it is the right time to go for early elec
tions.” “I’m asking for early elections after presenting a good budget because this incompetent opposition has allowed us to win again,” Rashid said.
“When the Pakistani nation sees their (opposition leaders) faces, they switch channels,” he claimed.
“This is the same Shehbaz [Sharif] who says Nawaz [Sharif] greatly respects [Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed] Bajwa and the army.
“Where did vote ko izzat do go? The vote has been sold at shops, they have insulted democracy,” he said, referring to Nawaz Sharif’s earlier rhetoric of attacking the army chief for allegedly ousting him from power.
Rashid said PPP MNA Jam Abdul Karim, who is an absconder in the Nazim Jokhio murder case, would be arrested from the airport on his return from Dubai.
“This is the first time I have seen on TV that [such a person] is staying in Dubai and has not surrendered. We will arrest him from the airport. We have not received any notice [regarding bail]. We will also send his name to Interpol tomorrow as the Sindh Home Department will not send his name because they (PPP) need his vote.”
The interior minister said he had spoken to the Sindh inspector general of police, adding that the MNA’s name was already on the Provisional National Identification List (PNIL) — a 30-day temporary travel restriction introduced in 2018 as an alternative to the more tedious Exit Control List (ECL).
“We will arrest him and hand him over to Sindh police,” he said. Referring to the PPP, he said, “Look at the condition of this party that even absconding murderers are being brought back from Dubai for the [no-confidence] vote. This means their legs are shaking.”
He further said that the interior ministry would hold a meeting at 4pm today during which Karim’s name would be put on the ECL.
A day earlier, a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court granted 10-day protective bail to the lawmaker. The MNA, along with his brother MPA Jam Awais and others, has been booked for allegedly torturing Jokhio to death as he had tried to prevent his foreign guests from hunting houbara bustard.
At the start of his press conference, Rashid said his ministry would cooperate with opposition parties in connection with their upcoming rallies as well as the no-confidence vote. However, nobody would be allowed to block another party’s route, he warned. “It is a very important day in Pakistan’s democratic history which is why everybody should display responsibility. The interior ministry is open 24/7 and we will try [to ensure that] the law and order situation is maintained. God forbid, if the opposition makes a mistake, they will pay for it.”