PDM stands firm on SC protest despite govt plea for relocation

Interior minister says govt asked PDM to move sit-in outside Red Zone after 'alarming' information from institutions

News Desk May 14, 2023
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb addressing a presser. PHOTO: APP/FILE

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a multi-party coalition that includes the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has refused to relocate their planned protest sit-in outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad despite the government's request to move it outside the Red Zone due to security concerns. 

Speaking at a press conference with Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb earlier on Sunday, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had directed him to meet with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

After receiving "alarming" information from security institutions, Sanaullah had urged the PDM chief to relocate the planned protest sit-in of his multi-party coalition away from the Supreme Court building.

Sanaullah, who belongs to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which is also part of the PDM coalition, said that the administration has informed him that it will be very difficult to control the protest and that the information being received from security institutions was very alarming.

He said that he had requested the JUI-F chief to hold the protest outside the Red Zone.

However, reports suggested that the PDM was holding firm on its choice of venue, with Fazl and other leaders rejecting any chance of relocating the sit-in which is supposed to continue for an indefinite period.

'No change in protest venue'

In a statement later in the evening, JUI-F Central Secretary General Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri  expressed concern over the spread of false rumours that the planned location of the protest had been changed.

"Some mischievous elements are spreading misinformation that the protest site has been changed. This is not true," he said in a statement.

He clarified that the sit-in protest will be held in front of the Supreme Court and urged the workers to not pay attention to false rumours.

"The protest will be held in front of the Supreme Court on Constitution Avenue," Haideri assured the party workers in the statement.

He further stated that the sit-in protest outside the top court will continue for an indefinite period of time, adding that the decision to end the sit-in protest will be made tomorrow.

Read: PM wants rioters involved in May 9 violence arrested in 72 hours

The protest sit-in by the ruling multi-party coaltion comes days after violents protests erupt across major cities in the country following the arrest of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. 

The former prime minister was arrested on May 9 by the paramilitary Rangers on orders of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) over allegations Rs50 billion corruption in the Al Qadir Trust case. 

However, a three member bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Bandial, later declared Imran’s arrest as illegal and ordered his immediate release. 

The ruling PDM coalition has been voicing their protest against what they describe as the double standards of the judiciary, openly accusing the apex court judges of favouritism and asking the top judge to step down from his position. 

During his press conference earlier today,  Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also lashed out at PTI Chairman Imran Khan over the violent protests and vandalism by his party workers and supporters following his May 9 arrest, and urged the people to use their voting power to negate any attempts to spread unrest in the country.

The interior minister stated that investigations are ongoing to identify the malicious elements involved in the recent tragic events, and those who were involved in attempting to set fire to sensitive installations and public and private property will be brought to justice with evidence presented in court.

The minister emphasised once again that the political party responsible for inciting unrest should be declared a proscribed organisation. However, he stated that this is a legal process and that facts will come to light in due course.

Earlier in the day, the PDM coalition sought permission from the local district administration to hold a sit-in outside of the Supreme Court premises in the federal capital.

Former minister and PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry confirmed to journalists that an application on the matter had been submitted to the concerned authorities.

"PML-N workers from across Islamabad will fully participate in the protest," he said.

The application states that the ruling party alliance wishes to "hold a public gathering at D-Chowk, Islamabad on Monday at 10am".


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