Islamabad: In light of the demonstrations on May 9 against party chairman Imran Khan’s arrest in the £190 million settlement case, the current administration is considering a possible ban on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as the nation’s political crisis worsens, according to Defense Minister Khawaja Asif.
But he added that if the government ultimately decides to outlaw the former ruling party, the matter will be sent to Parliament for approval. The PTI workers and supporters took to the streets in response to the leaders’ call for nationwide protests, but the demonstrations quickly turned deadly as they involved attacks on both public and private property, including military facilities and buildings. In Lahore, they also used arson to destroy the Corp Commander House, also known as the Jinnah House.
The armed forces have, since then, resolved to try the arsonists and those involved in anti-state activities on the day of the protests under relevant laws, including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.
“The PTI has attacked the very basis of the state, that never happened before. It can’t be tolerated”, Asif said while addressing a presser in Islamabad on Wednesday.
“Is there a crime that didn’t happen on May 9?” he asked.
Asif said that the miscreants involved in the violent episode had nefarious motives.
“The PTI has challenged the state’s writ. He has nefarious ambitions that could only be of an Indian and not a Pakistani,” the minister said.
He said whatever Khan did was “celebrated in India”.
Referring to the events that unfolded ahead of the vote of no confidence against Imran Khan in April last year, Khawaja Asif said: “All the steps taken by Imran Khan after April 9 have cost him. We did not harm him. He is suffering due to his own actions.”
“All the evidence is surfacing that the May 9 events took place under a plan, he said, adding that the miscreants had been facilitated.
He said that the planning for terrorist acts had been going on for a year. The suspects who had been arrested in relation with the incidents of violence revealed that the attacks were pre-planned.
“Attacking military installations was Imran Khan’s last resort. The events of May 9, challenged the writ of the state,” Asif said.
The minister went on to say that PTI had challenged the state.
The minister then announced that May 9 will be observed to honour the martyrs as the entire world respects their martyrs.
Meanwhile, PTI lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar has rubbished the possibility of a ban on the party, saying that the political parties cannot be banned.
The statement came in response to a question during media talk outside Supreme Court. The lawyer referred to a past case of banning Jamat-e-Islami (JI).
“An attempt had been made to ban Jamat-e-Islami a long time ago but the Supreme Court ruled that a ban cannot be imposed as it was a basic right of everyone to create a political party,” Zafar said.
He said that as far as the riots were concerned, it was an individual act if anyone engages in vandalism. He said that an action can be taken against the vandals but the party cannot be banned on its basis.
Zafar further stated that there were different laws for dealing with any entity spreading chaos and terror.
“The same court (SC) would nullify it in a single day of hearing in case such a step is taken,” he said while referring to the possible restriction on PTI.