PTI frank admission on weapons draws fire

Cabinet forms probe body; takes stock of K-P CM’s ‘use of force’ threat


Our Correspondent May 31, 2022

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday formed a committee to probe into the alleged claims made by PTI leaders that they were involved in incitement to violence and also carried weapons in the party’s long march on May 25.

The premier, while chairing a federal cabinet meeting, assigned the newly formed body the task of coming up with a plan to put a halt to these “anti-state” activities.

The committee includes Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Adviser on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira, PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq, Federal Communications Minister Asad Mahmood (of JUI-F) and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar.

The body will formulate a plan while taking into account the recent statements of PTI chairman and former premier Imran Khan as well as that of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

The PTI chief had conceded that some participants of his “Haqeeqi Azadi March” were armed. The participants of the meeting also took stock of his statements made prior to his party’s long march.

After the long march had been abruptly ended, the K-P chief minister had said he would use the “full force” of the province when the PTI chief gave the next call for a protest.

Read: Imran asks nation to prepare for next long march

The premier pointed out that he had issued directions to the interior ministry that no police personnel would be armed.

The interior minister assured him that all cops were unarmed.

Rana further informed the participants of the meeting that any uprising against the state would be dealt with sternly.

He added that the PTI's long march was an "anti-state conspiracy" instead of being a political activity.

He claimed that armed groups were gathered at the K-P House in the federal capital a day before the march.

He further maintained that the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan had also attacked police personnel.

The cabinet welcomed the nation on “rejecting” the PTI's long march. It also lauded the law enforcement agencies for “performing their duties efficiently”.

Speaking to the media after the cabinet meeting, the interior minister pledged that armed groups would not be allowed to enter the federal cabinet again.

“The PTI entered Islamabad using the K-P government’s resources,” he added while addressing a news conference accompanied by Kaira and Mahmood.

He claimed that armed cops from K-P were illegally added to the army of the "criminal gang".

“To further the ‘criminal political agenda', polarise the nation and mislead the youth, this armed gang attacked the Centre and headed towards Islamabad.”

Elaborating further, Rana claimed that when the marchers were stopped at Attock, Mianwali and within Islamabad, they opened fire at police officials.

“The protesters also removed obstacles placed to stop them.”

The minister further maintained that the actual objective of the protesters was to enter Islamabad and spread chaos and anarchy.

“Their objective was to seize Islamabad and make the government dysfunctional.”

Sana claimed that the police had only used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters. He claimed that the cops had not fired a single shot.

He further maintained that all the protesters that gathered at D-Chowk belonged to “the same province” and had arrived in Islamabad a day earlier.

The minister added that they had marked all the buildings and hotels where the protesters had stayed and they were putting all this information in their report.

“Some also stayed at Parliament Lodges and K-P House.”

The minister said he had proposed to the federal cabinet that permission be granted for booking PTI leaders.

He added that the federal government, being the competent authority, would have to give permission for the move.

He further said the cabinet had proposed a sub-committee to analyse the facts.

“If my stance has any weight, then the body will inform the cabinet of its decision. I am hopeful that cases will be registered and this group will be prosecuted.”

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