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Pakistan government bans Imran Khan’s long march to Islamabad; political confrontation feared

With escalating tension between the government and opposition, political instability is likely to grow in the coming days. Significantly, this will also have implications for the government’s efforts to tackle the worsening economic situation of the country

May 24, 2022
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Pakistan government bans Imran Khan’s long march to Islamabad (Photo: Dawn)

The Pakistan government on Tuesday decided to ban a planned protest march to the capital Islamabad by former prime minister Imran Khan, arguing they would not allow “chaos and disorder”. The decision, which comes just a day ahead of the scheduled protest march, was taken after a cabinet meeting.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Rana Sanaullah, the country’s interior minister, said a policeman was shot and killed during a late-night crackdown on Monday on Khan's leaders and supporters.

“They want to come as a mob that has no legal or constitutional status ... this cannot be allowed…..Don't be misled by Imran Khan. He directed his party members during rallies to call people from other parties robbers and traitors. This is how he wants to spread chaos and disorder," the minister claimed.

"No one would be allowed to siege the capital and dictate his demands," the interior minister said, adding the Cabinet had approved the ban.

Khan, who was ousted from power last month through a no-confidence vote in the parliament, has been demanding the dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies and the announcement of a fresh elections date.

Khan termed the action “akin to what dictators do.”

Addressing a press conference in Peshawar, Khan also asked the country's judiciary and "neutrals", a reference to the Pakistani military,  to "do the right thing". Claiming his long march would be peaceful, the former prime minister said peaceful protests are their democratic right.

Referring to the country’s judiciary, he said this was their "trial". "The country is going to look at your decisions," he was quoted as saying by Dawn.

In a veiled reference to the country’s military, he said, “those who call themselves ‘neutral'...You need to understand that the public is looking at you, and you will also be judged. You will be equally responsible if the country goes towards destruction."

With escalating tension between the government and opposition, political instability is likely to grow in the coming days. Significantly, this will also have implications for the government’s efforts to tackle the worsening economic situation of the country.

Over one month in power, the new government is yet to take decisive and hard measures that it had promised to revive the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s $6 billion bailout package. 
 

(SAM)

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