RAWALPINDI/ LAHORE: “A new kind of terrorism is being imported into the country by [Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief] Tahirul Qadri,” Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed told media in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.
He claimed that Qadri, who lives in Canada and arrived in Pakistan on Monday, had ordered his supporters to “finish off” the people who combat terrorism and had instructed them to “drown them in a river of blood”.
Referring to the clashes in the twin cities that ensued right before the PAT chief's arrival in Pakistan, Rasheed said “video footage had showed Qadri’s thugs attacking policemen with sticks,” adding that PAT supporters had intentionally hurt men who “protect Pakistani citizens and stop terrorists”.
“Now everyone knows that these people who call police terrorists were spreading terror themselves,” Rasheed remarked, questioning if this is the kind of “revolution” they want to bring to Pakistan.
During Monday’s clashes, at least 120 people including 45 policemen were injured in the twin cities. The clashes had broken out between police and PAT workers early on June 23 after the supporters asked law enforcers to remove barriers blocking Airport Road near Koral Chowk and the police officials refused.
Rasheed claimed that over 100 policemen were injured in Monday’s clashes. In an impassioned speech, he said that the policemen’s arms had been broken and their legs paralysed, adding that they had suffered internal injuries as well.
The information minister condemned the incident and said that it was highly regrettable.
“I met with the injured and spoke to them,” he said, adding that he wanted to assure the wounded policemen that the government, the citizens, parliamentarians and the civil society of Pakistan were standing by them.
“You are not alone,” he said, addressing the wounded.
Anarchy, not revolution
Earlier today, Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashood also commented on the clashes. Speaking to media in Lahore, he said that the behaviour of PAT supporters depicted anarchy, not 'a revolution'.
Express News screengrab of Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashood
Mashood stated that the government as well as the citizens of the country will not tolerate such behaviour.
Commenting on the standoff between the government and Qadri yesterday, the Punjab law minister said that situation became embarrassing for the entire country after the PAT chief refused to disembark the plane in Lahore.
"After Emirates approached the government with regards to the lockdown, the issue became a matter of national reputation," he explained.
The five-hour standoff had ended after Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad saved the situation by convincing the PAT chief to negotiate with Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar. After boarding Dr Qadri's plane, Sarwar had assured the PAT chief that all his legitimate demands will be met.
The Sindh governor had also told Dr Qadri that Emirates threatened to lodge a plane hijacking complaint which would tarnish Pakistan’s image internationally.
Commenting on the plane's diversion to Lahore, Mashood said that it was not feasible to land in Islamabad.
Authorities in Islamabad had decided to divert the plane to Lahore because of the volatile ground situation. According to government sources, the option to divert the plane to Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airportwas not included in the initial plan.
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