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Rawalpindi: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Wednesday said that every political party in Pakistan desires the support and patronage of the establishment but the establishment only supports the elected government of the country.

Speaking to media persons in his hometown Rawalpindi, he said “political parties come and go but the establishment stands with the elected government”.

Nawaz Sharif’s return

Rashid was also dismissive of the “much-hyped” talk of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif, a thrice-elected prime minister who left the country in 2019 for the UK to get medical treatment and has not returned since.

“Whether he comes or stays [in the UK], it doesn’t make any difference to the government,” he said while dismissing the talk as needless hype.

Rashid added that his offer of a one-way ticket to Pakistan for Sharif still stands.

He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan would complete his five-year tenure and that he would contest the next election with him.

When asked about the poor performance of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the local government polls of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said that victory and defeat were part of the electoral process while saying that he was not aware of the exact reasons for the defeat.

PDM protest

Without naming the Pakistan Democratic Movement — an alliance of opposition parties — the interior minister said he wanted them to revisit the date of their protest – scheduled for March 23 to March 30 in Islamabad – as it would coincide with the Pakistan Day.

Rashid said that important dignitaries would attend the celebrations on the day, with parades and military might on display, and security of paramount importance.

"By being stubborn [about the dates], you will hurt yourself and I will be compelled to enforce the law,” he warned.

“However, I assure you that no one will resort to any measure if you don't take the law into your hands," the minister added.