LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that hidden hands tried stopping the PTM from holding a procession in Lahore.
Sanaullah said that as soon as it came to his notice that district administration had tried to stop the PTM procession in Lahore through social media, he spoke with the police and district administration.
He said that district administration categorically rejected the allegation that any attempt was made to stop PTM’s procession. He added that the district administration also denied any knowledge of the Mochi Gate area having been flooded the night before the procession.
The minister said that the Punjab government believes in freedom of speech and added that such attempts to curb freedom of speech reminded him of former dictator Ayub Khan’s era. He said that there are laws to arrest and prosecute an individual, but they cannot be deprived of their constitutional right to freedom of speech in anticipation that someone might possibly say something offensive.
Senator Perveiz Rashid was the first to criticise the Punjab government for stopping the PTM from holding a rally. Later on his return, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has also criticised the act of curbing freedom of speech.
Punjab Police has also the same day clarified that no PTM organisers were arrested to stop the rally. They were replying to the allegations levelled by PTM organisers that some people were arrested the night before the procession.
A senior police official said that if they wanted to stop PTM from holding its procession, they could easily have done so. He said that the impression given by PTM of their workers being arrested was completely unfounded.
The official said that they did have a meeting with the organisers to finalise security arrangements and added that they warned PTM organisers to refrain from badmouthing institutions.
“No one should be allowed to belittle our military. They are the ones giving the ultimate sacrifices,” the official said.
On the same day, Shehbaz Sharif had tweeted that freedom of thought and expression are a constitutional right of all Pakistanis. “Pushtun, Punjabi, Mohajir, Sindhi and Baloch are all equal Pakistanis. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) does not believe in politics of ethnicity…work together for a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan,” he had written.
On the issue of watering the ground the night before the procession, the Parks and Horticulture Authority and District Administration expressed complete ignorance. PHA Director Ali Nawaz Shah of the concerned zone went on to say that they have no water connection for the Mochi Gate ground and it was not possible for the ground to be flooded without a water line. He said that there must have been some misunderstanding somewhere and added that they are already facing a shortage of water.