PM Shehbaz Sharif equates long march to tactics to ruin economy, says state's writ won't be compromised
ISLAMABAD: Amid rising pressure from the PTI for early elections and the government's decision to stay put, the PML-N government has decided to stop Imran Khan's Azadi March in Islamabad.
The decision came during PML-N's political committee meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair hours after a cop lost his life during a raid at the house of a PTI leader.
With security beefed up in the federal capital and a crackdown against PTI members across the country last night, all eyes were on PTI's long march to Islamabad announced by PTI Chairman Imran Khan earlier as part of the party's anti-government campaign seeking early elections.
Consultations over the existing political situation in the country and ways to tackle PTI's long march were discussed in today's meeting.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah gave a briefing on the law and order situation and measures to ensure peace and security.
It was agreed that the "public's security" must be ensured, Geo News reported, citing sources.
"Such tactics are equal to ruining the economy," PM Shehbaz Sharif was reported as saying in reference to the long march while addressing the meeting.
The prime minister further stated that the state’s writ will not be compromised at any cost and the way to every illegal action will be blocked.
The meeting decided to take legal action in case of any violent or provocative act.
The interior minister will brief the media over the strategy to stop the march in a press conference shortly.
All chief secretaries, IGs and other relevant officials will be taken on board over video and the district and provincial administrations will be given instructions on how to restrict the PTI from marching towards the federal capital.
Federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Azam Nazeer Tarar, Khurram Dastageer and Riaz Tarar attended the meeting.
Shortly after the government’s decision to stop PTI's 'Azadi March', Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah summoned the Pakistan Army for the security of the Red Zone in Islamabad, Geo News reported Tuesday, citing sources.
According to the sources, army personnel will be stationed at PM House and PM Office, the Supreme Court and other sensitive government buildings in the area.
All security arrangements will be handed over to the army, the sources said.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that Imran Khan is ready to attack Islamabad with the government's resources after losing the constitutional war in the Centre.
He said that the federal government will fully defend the state's writ.
"Imran Khan's personal agenda will not be allowed to be successful," Asif said.
The state of war in the federal and provincial governments and threats to the country's integrity will be dealt with an iron fist, he added.
Despite the house raids and arrests of more than 100 PTI leaders and workers since Monday night, the PTI leadership has clarified that the long march will proceed as planned, Geo News reported Tuesday.
PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated at a press conference in Peshawar, as news came in of the incumbent government's announcement of a ban on the PTI's long march, that the freedom to march is a fundamental, constitutional, and legal right.
According to him, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari led a march, but the government did not intervene. Recently, Maulana Fazlur Rehman organised a sit-in in Peshawar without it even being stopped, he said.
"I would like to clarify that we will not stop and that our march will continue as planned," said Qureshi.
"PTI employees must reach the long march no matter what," said Qureshi.
He added that if stopped at Attock, people will make their own way and that the present government is not a government but an "arrangement."
Referring to the arrests and house raids of PTI workers, Qureshi stated that despite the arrests, the enthusiasm of party members remain high.
He asked the incumbent government to "let the people decide who they want" and that the democratic way must be implemented, adding that the populace has already rejected closed-door politics.
"It is no longer the PTI's campaign because it has gone global," he said.
Qureshi stated in a message to PTI employees that they should take cover underground and do their best to avoid arrest.
He said that raids are being conducted and that the sanctity of closed doors is being violated.
PTI leader Asad Umar added at the press conference that the Pakistani population has "rejected slavery." He stated that the PTI's demand is not for Imran Khan to become prime minister, or for PTI to be given the government.
"We say let the Pakistani people decide; for the sake of the country's democracy and development, it is necessary to accept the people's will."
You can forcibly shut down the country, but you cannot manage it, added Umar.