Islamabad/Lahore/Karachi: The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided not to give permission to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to organise a long march in Islamabad, citing the 2014 sit-in of the former ruling as the reason.
The decision comes amid a government crackdown against PTI leaders in major cities across the country. The interior ministry has directed the police to deal strictly with the PTI demonstrators with houses of PTI leaders and workers raided late Monday night.
Moreover, the federal capital has also imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 (authorises the executive magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area) in Islamabad for two months.
The cabinet members said it was a “unanimous decision” to stop the PTI from staging the protest and criticised Imran Khan for using “foul language and causing anarchy” in the country.
Sanaullah further supported the cabinet’s decision by the PTI’s inability to submit an affidavit in the Islamabad High Court, ensuring that the long march would be peaceful. He accused the PTI of going into hiding in Peshawar and doing activities on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government expense.
“Imran Khan wants to divide the nation and the PTI intentions are clear to create division and chaos in the country,” the interior minister.
PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira, who is serving as an adviser to the PM on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, criticised President Arif Alvi for being the “opposition leader” in the incumbent government tenure.
“The behaviour of President Alvi is constitutional. We have no word else than condemn Alvi’s actions,” he said and blamed the president for the prevailing political crisis in the country and Punjab. He also accused Alvi of damaging the economy by linking the political situation to it.
“If we see, this is a continuation of PTI’s 2014 policies which is based on lies,” Kaira said.
Other cabinet members also spoke in the same tone, hurling accusations that the PTI did not perform well in its tenure and wanted to create the same “anarchy situation” that it did during 2014 sit-in.
Before the press conference, the federal government as well as the governments of Sindh and Punjab imposed a ban on gatherings under Section 144 (which authorises the executive magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Islamabad administration has imposed Section 144 for two months in the wake of the protests and sit-ins.
“To deal effectively with the law and order situation in Islamabad, the Islamabad Police has written a letter seeking additional deployment of magistrates across the district,” the Islamabad Police said in a series of tweets.
The Islamabad administration has also decided to shut the metro bus service.
The provincial government has decided to close all the entry and exit points to Islamabad and started putting containers to seal them. Sources said that the government has also given nod to shutting the mobile phone services in Punjab’s 350 locations, including 20 in Lahore, and deploying additional troops of Rangers.
In addition to this, bus stands, interchanges, and routes are also being shut down by the administration in many cities – including Gujrat, Muzaffargarh, and Faisalabad.
The Sindh Home Department issued a notification, which stated that the government has imposed Section 144 in view of the law and order situation in the province.
The province’s inspector general of police had informed authorities that some political and disgruntled elements were planning to trigger the acts of “unlawful assembly” with the intent to “block roads, highways and organisation of sit-ins”.
“It has also been pointed out that these will further provide an opportunity to anti-social and anti-state elements trying to take any advantage through exploiting the prevalent politico-economic situation. Therefore, the Sindh government, in exercise of power under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, does hereby impose ban on assemblage/gatherings of five or more people, staging of demonstrations and rallies across the province for a period of 30 days with immediate effect,” read the notification
It added that the station house officers of concerned police stations were authorised to register complaints under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code if the order was violated.