Ministers warn Opposition of crackdown, suggest delaying movement


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Federal ministers Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry. Photo: Files

Three federal ministers on Saturday issued different suggestions to the Opposition, with one asking it to delay their movement due to the coronavirus pandemic; one warning of a crackdown and one asking the Opposition to not break any laws.

“There may be [a] crackdown, there may be corona, there may be incidents of terrorism,” Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid said, in his now customary Saturday press conference.

The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a “befitting” reply to the Opposition in his speech yesterday to the Insaf Lawyer’s Forum. He noted that PM Imran has said categorically that he will not give any NRO to Opposition leaders.

The minister claimed that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the platform on which Opposition parties have gathered to oust the government, is moving towards a “politics of violence”.

Hitting out at PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Rashid alleged that the JUI-F leader was a “respectable man” but wanted to play the religion card.

He added that the maulana has been “used all his life for the religious card”.

The minister also claimed that the next four months were “very important”, adding that the army was standing behind the democratic government.

“The Pakistan Army stands behind the civilian government so that no man can take out WikiLeaks, Dawnleaks or any other leaks,” Rashid said.

Talking about rumours about the arrest of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, Rashid said that he did not have any knowledge about it.

He added that the police should investigate the treason cases against PML-N leaders, and may release the ones who are found ‘not guilty’.

The minister reiterated that PM Imran Khan did not have any knowledge about the sedition case against PML-N leaders, saying that “it happened at a very low level”.

Talking about the PPP, Rashid claimed that the party will not resign from its seats in the National Assembly. He said that if the party resigns from Sindh, it will lose its majority in that province as well.

‘No one can break the law in the name of democracy’

Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar separately said that no one will be allowed to break the law in the name of democracy.

The minister, in a conversation with media representatives, said the government’s policy was clear on the Opposition’s public gatherings, adding that the Opposition may do whatever it wants within the ambit of the law.

“Our policy is to abide by the law,” said Asad Umar. He added that due to the coronavirus, all political parties should avoid gatherings.

Fawad ‘advises’ Opposition to postpone movement till next year

Separately, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, citing fears of a second wave of coronavirus ‘advised’ Opposition parties to postpone their scheduled political rallies and sit-ins till next year.

The federal minister, in a tweet, noted that the National Command and Operations Center has issued new SOPs because of the second wave of coronavirus and had asked for restrictions on weddings and other large gatherings.

PM Imran Khan lashes out

The ministers issued their advice to the Opposition a day after PM Imran Khan came out all guns blazing against the PDM.

Speaking at the Insaf Lawyers’ Forum on Friday, PM Imran Khan had alleged that the PML-N was handing out money to its supporters to muster support for its anti-government movement.

He had also lashed out at Opposition parties for sticking together “when they are being called to account for their crimes.”

“I want to tell their supporters to take their money and even eat their qeemay ke naan: but stay inside [and do not come out to protest],” he said.

“Two years after the [Panamagate] JIT was formed and the courts gave their verdict, he [Nawaz Sharif] is still saying ‘Mujhay Kyun Nikala’ (Why was I ousted?),” the prime minister said.

The reaction came as the PDM gears up to launch rallies across the country against the PTI government. The first rally will be held on October 16 in Gujranwala.



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