ISLAMABAD - Just hours before the start of announced long march of PTI, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Wednesday said that the government would implement the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and no one would be allowed to hold protest march as well as sit-in in Islamabad without prior permission.
The minister also ruled out all conspiracy theories that army was behind the present political mayhem in the country. "I assure you that army is not behind all this political turmoil," he said in his two hours belated press conference at Punjab House.
"The government analysed the decision of Lahore High Court politically and legally... (it) had also reached the same decision that is of Lahore High... We will implement the LHC decision in letter and spirit."
The minister said, according to the decision, if some party wanted to hold political rally, it should get permission from the local administration. He further said that then the administration would make final decision going through the purposes of the rally and could seek guarantees from the protestors. "But no rally should affect the life of common citizens,” he remarked.
Nisar said the government had been giving permission to PTI and PAT to hold rallies in the past, but when it looks that the protestors could resort to violence it becomes the responsibility of the government to provide security to the common citizens and to political rallies.
“There are serious security threats not only from local agencies but from international agencies that operate in the region,” the minister said without naming any agency and specifying the area where they were operating. “Not only civilian agencies but military intelligence also had warned that protest sit-ins would be targeted... 15secirty threats have come during last half an hour," he claimed.
The interior minister made it clear that prime minister would not resign on the demand of a ‘violent crowd’. The minister said that after the announcement of inquiry commission by PM Nawaz Sharif, there was no reason to hold long march by PTI. But now Imran Khan was saying that the offer was not acceptable until PM would resign.
"Was Supreme Court, the highest judicial body of the county, not working independently or was it influenced by prime minister?" he asked. Whether UN will intervene to probe allegations, he questioned reporters, adding: who will decide the matter?
He informed that earlier the government had a stance that Dr Tahirul Qadri of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) would not be allowed to hold rally in the capital as he used children and women as human shield. "We had drawn red lines... (Initially) we were thinking that PTI being a political force should be allowed for sit-in while remaining within ambit of constitution and law. But now as both parties have announced to hold joint march, so it would not be possible for the government to distinguish between PTI and PAT workers... now their agenda is same and protest is joint one," he said.
"From the very first day, the government had a stance that they would not create hurdles in any political activity or rally or sit-in, but a crowd of people could not be allowed to besiege the government as well as capital," Nisar said, adding that they could not be allowed to threaten the political and democratic set-up. "We cannot find such example in any society that some crowd stood up for its unconstitutional and illegal demands and say if their demands were not met they would assault the capital," he deplored.
Nisar said that the country was passing through a very critical stage and military was fighting the most difficult war in the country and an operation was going on in North Waziristan Agency (NWA). “We are facing difficult security situation. In such circumstances, it is the duty of the political parties and different institutions to stand behind the armed forces," he said and deplored that from quite some time the nation was focussed on long march and not on this war.
The minister indicating towards PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri said that he was spreading violence and asking his followers to resort to violence. The other party, PTI is saying the PM should resign when they will reach Gujranwala, asking for packing up the assemblies and bringing in new technocrat set-up.
Such things only happen in a banana republic, he said. “This only happens in countries like Somalia, Iraq and Syria... We will not let this country become Somalia or Syria. Is it a principle that a crowd due to a sit-in could take over the government and if this happens it would become a precedent," he said.
The PML-N was neither in the government during elections nor did it have any role in the formation of caretaker set-ups. "From clerk to chief secretary, all were transferred from Punjab before elections," he said.
The minister appreciated Punjab Police for handling the situation during last some days. He also thanked all the political parties to stand by the democratic set-up during the present turmoil. He also appreciated the security and intelligence agencies of Pakistan. He apologised to the people for inconveniences caused by containers and roadblocks.
Responding a question about his Wednesday's meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, he said that this was not news. "I being an interior minister often meet COAS on internal security matters and this is always institutional," he said. About the back channel talks with Imran Khan, he denied any such negotiation on issue of long march and said he used to talk Khan on political matters.