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Sanaullah tells PTI to keep long march ‘peaceful’

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Saturday warned former prime minister Imran Khan to ensure that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) long march on Islamabad was “peaceful” and “political”, asserting that the government won’t allow an anarchy-like situation in the country.

“They will have to give [the government] assurances that the march will be peaceful, political and democratic,” Sanaullah said while talking to the media outside the Lahore District and Sessions Court, where he had attended a hearing of a drugs case filed against him by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).

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The minister criticised Imran and his own predecessor Sheikh Rashid for “inciting” and “misleading” the public against the government.

“Even [on Friday], he (Imran) told his supporters not to spare anyone. I am warning you for the last time – not as a minister but as the president of PML-N Punjab – if you don’t let go of these tactics and keep encouraging your supporters to disrespect members of other parties, you will face the same fate. You won’t be able to escape from it.”

Sanaullah was referring to the PTI chairman’s remarks in the address he had made at the party’s Mianwali rally. The former premier had told his workers that neither containers placed on the route nor the interior minister could stop them from their march on Islamabad. He had also accused Sanaullah of committing 18 murders.

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The PML-N leader warned Imran that if he did not mend his ways, the PML-N too would instruct its workers to “catch and beat them up”. “This is your misconception that you will be able to cause anarchy or chaos in the country. Nothing will happen,” he said.

He also Sheikh Rashid for his “ignorant” and “misleading” comments against the government. “You told people that this march will be bloody.

I am warning you to take your words back or I won’t let you step out of your house.”

They, the minister continued, would have to provide the government with assurances that the march would be peaceful, political and democratic. He further asked the PTI to “distance” itself from, condemn and apologise for the Masjid-e-Nabwi (PBUH) incident, where Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet members were heckled by Pakistani pilgrims last month.

Sanaullah said there was pressure on the government from religious groups to pursue cases against the PTI for what happened in Saudi Arabia. “But we don’t want this. Ahsan Iqbal was attacked [in the past]. We want them (the PTI) to at least apologise.”

The interior minister also said that Imran Khan’s march on Islamabad was actually aimed at protecting Farah Khan, a close aide of the PTI chairman’s wife Bushra Bibi who has been accused of corruption, and against whom a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) inquiry has been launched.

“There have been a series of accusations [one of which is] that Usman Buzdar was appointed the chief minister of Punjab to take instructions from Farah,” he said, adding that billions of rupees were collected for transferring and postings officials, and there were transactions that showed that the money was sent abroad.

The minister further alleged that Imran’s amnesty scheme was “introduced for Farah because she greatly benefitted from it”. “These are just accusations. But unlike them (PTI) we won’t present accusations as evidence. We are inquiring into these allegations and a reference or case will only be initiated once we find credible evidence,” he added.

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