Dr.Syed Sabir Ali
Associated Press Service
TAXILA: Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan reiterated on Saturday that the government has no reservations over the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) holding a rally on Nov 30 in Islamabad — provided that it is peaceful and according to the law.
“If somebody wants to hold a rally in Islamabad according to law, not with my permission but the permission of the law, they have the freedom to hold that demonstration. But this freedom should not infringe upon the freedom of others,” Nisar told reporters in Taxila.
The PTI has been carrying out countrywide anti-government demonstrations in protest of the government’s alleged corruption and rigging in the 2013 general elections.
Months after violent clashes with police during the Azadi March of August in Islamabad’s D-Chowk, the opposition party is gearing up again to hold what it promises as a landmark rally in the capital on Nov 30.
No roads should be blocked, this is something that the law demands as well as my responsibility to ensure as interior minister,” warned the interior minister.
“While the Tehreek-i-Insaf has the freedom to hold protests, the citizens of Islamabad also have freedoms and rights. There are also rights of the Supreme Court and the employees of government offices — their routes should not be blocked, they should not be harassed, have no security threats.
“I assure the PTI and the citizens of Islamabad that, if there is a rally, it will be according to the law,” he added.
The interior minister also extended an offer to revive failed negotiations with the PML-N led government if the PTI holds rally peacefully.
“If the Nov 30 demonstration is political and peaceful, we have no reservations. And if this protest is held peacefully, I will ask the PTI to come to the (negotiation) table after their show of strength – and the government is ready for this – to find solutions to their problems,” he said.
“Throughout the world, problems are solved not with weapons, batons or threats, but on the (negotiation) table, and I hope the PTI will also take a step in this direction,” he added.
The interior minister, once again, rejected reports about the presence in Pakistan of the Islamic State (IS) militant group, also known as Daish or ISIS.
“I repeat again: ISIS is an Arab-based organisation. It has so far no presence in Pakistan. I do not know why some people, only for the sake of criticising the government, are fixed on the notion that ISIS exists in Pakistan. There is no existence of ISIS (in Pakistan). It is only an Arab-based organisation, and all their activities are focused there (in the Arab region),” he said.
Although he admitted the presence of pro-IS graffiti in parts of the country, Nisar rejected it as proof of the group’s presence.
“Some militant groups here have used their name, but wall-chalking is not a difficult task. There is already a perception that the world’s militant organisations live here. Why do we want to link those militant groups to Pakistan that do not exist here?” he said.
“As all Pakistani security agencies – both civil and military – have said in the past, we remain completely focused on eliminating not only IS but all and any groups that believe in militancy and violence.”