ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s ‘long march’ is practically “a failed march” as it has been rejected by the public at large.

Addressing a press conference, he said that the public first disassociated itself from the “Fitna march” in Lahore and until reaching Gujranwala the participants were not more than 4,000.

Contrary to Khan’s claims of a ‘sea of people’ participating in the march, only a few thousand people were accompanying “Fitna Khan”, he said.

He said that Khan needs to leave his anti-State agenda and become a follower of the law and the Constitution; come to the table and set with other political parties, apologise for his past behaviour, and talk as at the moment Pakistan needs unity, not chaos.

He said that as per the instruction of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and allied parties, police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) were not armed with weapons and only equipped with tear gas and rubber bullets for preventing the entry of the PTI’s long march to Islamabad on May 25, and currently, the government has the same policy for dealing with the ongoing long march.

The minister said that PTI leader Faisal Vawda had claimed that the PTI’s long march would see ‘bloodshed’.

Following his press conference, the party suspended Vawda’s membership and issued a show-cause notice to him. “I can say this confidently that PTI did a ‘drama’. That press conference was done on Imran’s instructions and it was to scare the government and pressurise us into accepting Khan’s demands.”

“Following the press conference of PTI leader Faisal Vawda, audio leaks of former minister Ali Ameen Ghandapur and video message of provincial minister Kamran Bangash in which both Ghandapur and Bangash were talking about bringing arms and ammunition along with in the march,” he said, adding as an interior minister he will request to the prime minister and allied parties for allowing releasing of weapon to police and personnel of other law enforcement for the protection of their own lives and the federal capital.

He said that such kind of situation can cause damage to law enforcement agencies and whole responsibility of such a situation would be on Imran Khan.

The minister said that the main objective of the delay in the arrival of the march into Islamabad was to collect more arms and ammunition.

He warned the chief ministers of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces, chief secretaries, and Inspectors General of Police (IGPs) of both provinces that federal law enforcement agencies have the constitutional right to arrest the armed group who planned to attack the state.

The interior minister condemned Khan’s remarks about imposing martial law in the country, saying that the enforcers of martial law as an institution have decided to abide by the constitution. “If this happened then the government and allied parties will not accept it,” he said.

To a question about dialogue with the PTI, he said that there is no dialogue with the PTI chief at any level or anywhere. Khan has himself confessed that no talks are under way with the government, he said.

When asked if the government had any information that the PTI long march will move toward Rawalpindi instead of Islamabad, he said that we did not have such kind of information. However, he said that when the march will reach Jhelum on November 6 then we will come to know about their next plan.

To a question, he said that an inquiry commission had been formed to probe into the tragic killing of journalist Arshad Sharif.

The report of the commission and facts collected by the two-member team during their visit to Kenya would be shared with the family of the deceased and every step will be taken for their satisfaction, he said, adding that if the mother of Sharif is not satisfied with the government measures, she would be asked to tell other options which may satisfy her and the government to follow it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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