Imran Khan’s party could be banned due to violent riots
Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said on Wednesday the government was considering a possible ban on Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party following attacks by its supporters on military installations following the arrest of the leader. former Prime Minister.
On May 9, violent protests erupted after Khan, 70, was arrested by paramilitary Rangers.
Members of his party vandalized a dozen military installations, including the corps commander’s house in Lahore, Mianwali air base and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The army headquarters in Rawalpindi was also attacked by mobs for the first time. Police put the death toll in violent clashes at 10.
Speaking to the media here, Khawaja Asif said Imran Khan was still reluctant to condemn his supporters’ attacks on military and civilian installations.
“A decision (to ban PTI) has not yet been made, but a review is surely underway,” he told reporters.
He, however, said the issue would be sent back to parliament for approval if the government finally decides to ban the former ruling party.
The minister said the former prime minister saw the military as his adversary. “His (Khan’s) whole policy was carried out in the bosom of the military and today he suddenly decided to oppose it,” Khawaja Asif said.
The minister said Imran Khan’s own leaders who had left the party were saying the same thing. “Everything I say is said by everyone who leaves PTI,” he said. “They said it all happened with the planning. In fact, they were facilitated.” He also criticized Khan for failing to condemn attacks on military installations.
“So far he (Imran) has not condemned [the violence] in clear terms. He said he didn’t know he was [in custody]. He had his phone […] he reiterated that this reaction was expected and will happen again if arrested,” Asif said.
Khawaja Asif claimed that the vandalism of military installations across the country on May 9 were “coordinated attacks” planned by Imran Khan.
“There’s a lot of evidence and their people are thinking they were told about it beforehand,” he said. “I feel like his year-long struggle…all his plans fell through and this was his last action against the armed forces.” The minister said Mr Khan’s party challenged the founding of the state by “challenging the defense installations” on May 9.
“Is there a crime that was not committed on May 9? The ISI office was attacked, they tried to enter the cantonment of Sialkot but this attack was repelled… they also burned down the house of the corps commander in Lahore,” he said.
However, the head of the PTI, lawyer Ali Zafar, said the party would challenge the ban in court because a political party cannot be banned. He told the media that when a ban was imposed on Jamaat-i-Islami in the 1960s, it was overturned by then-Chief Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius.
“Efforts were made to ban the Jamaat-i-Islami a long time ago. The Supreme Court said you cannot ban a political party and everyone has the right to form a political party,” Zafar said.
He added that vandalism was an individual act and that “a political party cannot be banned”.
The Minister of Defense also said that the coalition government would take all these measures to prevent others from targeting the armed forces in the future. He also said that May 25 will be celebrated to honor the soldiers killed in the country.
Imran Khan’s party said it would address the nation at 7 p.m. tonight.
Imran Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a vote of no confidence in his leadership, which he said was part of a US-led plot targeting him over of its independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)