ISLAMABAD: Will the federal government resort to the use of force against participants of the upcoming Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) long march or not?
This question was answered by newly appointed Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed on Monday.
Sheikh Rasheed on Monday did not commit to the non-use of force against the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) long march, which is scheduled to take place in either late January or early February.
“I did not say [the government] will not do anything,” he said, speaking on programme. I said they can come, I did not say we will not do anything. The decision on how to handle this [long march] is yet to be taken,” he added.
Rasheed said that governments use different methods at their disposal to deal with protests and marches, such as mutual negotiations, dialogue and other initiatives that come under the ambit of the law.
Without going into details, the former railways minister said that the Opposition’s wish to engage with “someone” was not being fulfilled.
“If you [Opposition] say that you don’t want to talk to us [the government], then it seems that the wish you have in your heart to hold talks with ‘someone’ is not being fulfilled,” he said.
Earlier, the minister said that he had not dealt strictly with the PDM’s workers when they arrived to attend the jalsa in Lahore.
“Did I even stop one wagon, one car throughout the entire country when it was my first day [as interior minister]?” he asked.
The Awami Muslim League chief said JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman led the largest convoy of political workers in Lahore but the government did nothing to stop them.
“I am the biggest protector of religious madressahs,” he said. “I consider them the religious minars in Pakistan. However, Fazlur Rehman has his eyes on Islamabad insetad of Islam,” he said.
The minister said that the JUI-F chief had contested several elections in the past for the same assembly and was now labelling this one as “haraam”.
PDM tells govt to go home, says long march to be held in late January or early February
The comments from the interior minister came a few hours after Fazl announced on Monday that the 11-party alliance’s lawmakers would hand in their resignations from the provincial and national assemblies on December 31.
The development came a day after the PDM held a massive rally in Lahore.
“Today, we want to make it clear: The government should resign till January 31. If it does not, then the [PDM leadership] will announce a long-march on February 1,” Fazl had said as he addressed a press conference along with PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto.
However, Fazl had said that the final date for the long-march would be finalised later.
The PDM chief had appealed to the people to start preparing for the long march, saying that following yesterday’s successful public rally, the 11-party alliance has signed on a joint statement.
“The schedules issued to the provinces by the steering committee will remain intact,” he had said.