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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to allow Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to hold its protest outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Jan 19.

Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, while addressing a press conference after meeting of the five-member ministerial committee constituted to monitor law and order, said the committee held deliberations regarding opposition plan to protest outside the ECP.

The committee has unanimously decided that no hurdle will be created in the way of opposition’s protest, he said.

At the presser, he was flanked by Minister for Law and Justice Muhammad Farogh Naseem, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chuadhary, and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz.

The interior minister said the opposition would maintain law and order, and would not take law in their own hands.

The opposition parties should stage protest within the ambit of the law and the constitution, he said.

He said the opposition parties have fielded their candidates for upcoming by-election to be held on Jan 19.

Opposition was coming to assemblies they have declared fake and selected. The anti-government drive of the PDM will have no effect on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government as public support is with Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said.

Rashid, said Pakistan’s politics had not reached a dead end, and that it had come out on the battlefield.

He asked PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to refrain from making statements that are provocative and tend to spread hate.

He also asked Fazlur Rehman to ‘focus on Islam’ not on Islamabad as Islamabad was not his fate.

About the opposition parties’ slogans, the interior minister said, no one has advocated the cause of Khatm-e-Nabuwat more than them.

He added that the opposition must not incite people in the name of religion, and also made it clear that Prime Minister Imran Khan will not recognise Israel at any cost.

To a question with respect to ongoing foreign funding case, he claimed that the ruling PTI had presented the signatures of 40,000 people as an endorsement of the party’s stance, while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had not furnished a single cheque.

About seminaries reforms, he said a committee had been formed that comprises Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Pir Noorul Haq Qadri and him.

The committee has started coordination with seminaries.

"We consider religious forces to be the fort of Islam," Rashid said.

Khattak said after general elections of 2018, the opposition parties have levelled allegations of rigging. In response to opposition’s allegations, the government constituted a committee headed by him to probe the allegations, he said, adding that they (opposition) had only attended two meetings of the committee and then never came to the meetings.

They neither produced any record nor wrote any letter to him with respect to rigging in the elections, he said, adding that the main objective of the PDM’s protest was to create chaos in the country.

Chaudhry said the present election commissioner had been appointed with the consultation of PPP and the PML-N.

The opposition has spoken against the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army and the ECP, he said, adding that the opposition had criticised every state institution.

Naseem said the protest is a fundamental right, as well as freedom of expression but it should be as per the provisions of law.

Supreme Court's verdict in Faiz Abad sit-in case, suggests that protests could not be staged just everywhere, he said.

He said the law will take its course if anybody tried to violate the law.

Faraz appealed to the opposition parties to provide proof and evidences of rigging instead of blaming national institutions. He said that they should follow legal proceedings of the ECP.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021