Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Tuesday banned the massive rally of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, to be held on May 25. Earlier, the government raided more than 100 supporters of Imran overnight and arrested them. On Saturday, Khan appealed to his supporters to peacefully join the Islamabad march on May 25 to press for the dissolution of the National Assembly and fresh elections in the country. However, Pakistan’s Coalition Government rejected Khan’s demand for early elections in the country, saying the government would complete its term and elections would be held next year.
‘They are not coming for peaceful protest’
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said, “Peaceful protest is everyone’s right but they (Khan’s supporters) are not coming for peaceful protest.” Sanaullah said that if he had not termed his protest as a ‘bloody protest’, we would not have objected. The minister said the Pakistan government would not allow PTI to spread “chaos and disorder” under the garb of protest march. “They will be stopped so that they cannot propagate their misleading agenda,” he said. The home minister was referring to a police constable in Lahore who was killed in a raid to arrest supporters of Khan’s party.
Sanaullah said the cabinet decided to impose restrictions to prevent chaos and Imran Khan’s party failed to assure the administration that the rally would be peaceful. Police confirmed that the arrests were made at the behest of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) coalition and dominance. Earlier on Monday, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif alleged that Khan wanted to create a civil war-like situation in the country.
Imran’s announcement will go despite the ban
According to Khan’s party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry, the police raids against his supporters started after midnight on Monday. At a press conference in Peshawar on Tuesday, Imran Khan pledged to continue the massive rally in Islamabad as planned, despite the Pakistan government’s ban. The former PM said, “I ask my supporters to reach Islamabad and I will also be there.” He insisted that he was not afraid of death and urged his followers to be ready to sacrifice for the sovereignty of Pakistan .
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