The federal government on Saturday started weighing options, including calling out paramilitary Rangers, to thwart the PTI’s anticipated march on the federal capital as the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa refused to come to the Centre’s aid.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that if the provincial governments of K-P and Punjab – where the PTI is at the helm of affairs – refused the federation’s request for police personnel to stop Imran Khan’s long march, the government would use its powers to call in Rangers to maintain law and order.
Addressing a news conference in Lahore, Sanaullah warned that no one will be allowed to storm the federal capital and said that the state had security forces at its disposal. However, he maintained every effort will be made for “careful use of force to minimise losses”.
He alleged that the former prime minister was galvanising the people towards chaos which was condemnable, adding if an “armed gang” descended on the federal capital then it was obvious that law enforcement agencies would have to act and stop any such attempt.
“If he comes with the aim to protest, I am saying this on record, we will give them the place, give them security and even food. But if they want to trample over the state or head towards the Red Zone, then it is our constitutional responsibility to stop such people.”
In-house change in Punjab
Meanwhile, the PML-N leader said that bringing change in Punjab was “not difficult” as the numbers have changed.
He claimed that the numerical support in the Punjab Assembly with which incumbent Chief Minister Parvaiz Elahi managed to become to win the CM polls have changed with “just 2 or 3 votes here and there”.
“It is crucial to bring about a constitutional and political change in the attitude of the Punjab government. We are seeking a review of the Supreme Court's decision against counting the votes of those crossing the floor,” he informed.
The statement echoes the reports that the PDM government was consulting constitutional experts to find a way to overthrow the PTI-PML-Q alliance in the country's political capital.
Dar to return coming week
Sanaullah said that party senior leader Ishaq Dar would return to the county in the coming week and further facilitate the government’s economic team.
He said Dar would be able to help Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif manage the country’s economic affairs “better”.
The statement comes after speculations were swirling that incumbent Finance Minister Miftah Ismail would be replaced by Dar.
Sanaullah said PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif was the party leader and the party could not impose any decision on him, but it had requested him to be present to lead the party’s election campaign next year.
“He has accepted this and … whenever elections happen, Nawaz Sharif will be back in Pakistan before that.”
The minister further said that the government took tough decisions to steer the country out of the crisis due to which they failed to control rising inflation in the country.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the PTI-led government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa refused a federal request to provide police personnel to stop Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s long march.
Chief Minister Mahmood Khan informed the federal government that the law and order situation in the province requires attention and during this time, providing security personnel to stop the long march was not feasible.
He added that at a time when Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah should himself be present in Swat to assist in controlling the security situation, the federal government is seeking help from K-P police forces.
PTI leader Shaukat Ali Yousafzai also lambasted Sanaullah, questioning his capabilities as the interior minister.
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