- Interior minister says protest was not a march or a democratic movement but a criminal act
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah voiced hope on Tuesday that a case would be registered against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) long march as “it was a criminal act that is punishable by Pakistan’s penal code.”
In a press conference, he highlighted that a subcommittee of the Cabinet has been formed to investigate the long march and it would brief the Cabinet for further proceedings if PTI was found to be the malefactor.
“This was not a march or a democratic movement. It was a criminal act,” he said. “We will use audio and video evidence released by PTI and I hope a case will be registered against it.”
Sanaullah said that PTI Chairman Imran Khan was out to storm the red zone and “his agenda is to split the nation.”
He also underlined that resources owned by the government and ministries were used in the march.
“They did not want to protest or hold a political activity. Rather, they wanted to spread anarchy and seize the capital city to turn the government dysfunctional,” he emphasised. “Parliament lodges were used as guest houses for the march.”
Imran Khan had earlier stated that the reason for calling off the long march was fear of violence by the participants.
Agreeing to Khan’s statement of certainty of violence in the march, he pointed out that protesters fired at police in Attock and Mianwali districts as well as in Islamabad.
On the other hand, not a single bullet was fired by the police in Islamabad or Punjab, said Sanaullah.
He blamed PTI for lying and misleading the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a bid to secure an order to hold a protest in the D Chowk.
“The apex court ordered removal of blockages and the demand was fulfilled,” he said. “As soon as PTI received the permission from the Supreme Court, the march headed for D Chowk where 3,000 to 4,000 people were waiting for it.”
He revealed that no one from the twin cities participated in the march and thanked every Pakistani who stayed at home and refrained from participating in the movement.
On May 25, Imran Khan kick started the long march towards the capital city.
In his address the next morning, he warned the government to stage fresh elections or face more mass protests.
“I want to give a message to this imported government to announce elections within six days. Dissolve the assemblies and call an election in June,” he said to a thinned out crowds of thousands.
He warned that he would return to stage a fresh rally next week if elections were not scheduled, and then called on his supporters to disperse.
He also gave a six-day deadline to the government for announcing elections and dissolving assemblies.
On that day, Rana Sanaullah said that the purpose of holding the long march today was to damage the government’s ongoing negotiations with the IMF.