ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to conditionally allow the May 11 rally announced by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to protest against alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced on a live televised press conference on Thursday. The PTI administration will receive the official approval later this evening, he said. “We will, however, allocate a separate space in Islamabad for future protest rallies,” he added. “A mere 100, 200 people can create havoc for the state by protesting at sensitive locations like the federal capital’s Red Zone.”
“Can any state compromise on the stability of its institutions?” questioned the minister, who hinted that some elements might try to disrupt law and order. He vowed to deal with any such attempt to derail democracy.
“I hope the whole episode comes to it’s logical conclusion with democratic norms succeeding in the end,” said Chaudhry Nisar.
He said weapons of any kind, not even sticks, would be allowed in the rally.
Also read: Another weekend, another PTI party
The interior minister said that there will be a three-tier security for Islamabad and vehicles with weapons in them would be stopped. Even fireworks will not be allowed at the rally, he added.
“Designated land routes from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Murree would be advertised from tomorrow. No other routes would be allowed to the participants of the rally.”
“Container politics would not be allowed … no one can use containers except security agencies,” said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) minister referring to Allama Tahirul Qadri’s prolonged protest rally in the run up to May 11 polls last year.
The Islamic cleric with thousands of his supporters took to the streets, demanding sweeping changes to Pakistan’s electoral system. Qadri stayed in a climate-controlled container the whole time while protesters, women and children among them, were left out in the open to face the cold weather.
Chaudhry Nisar further said that men and women are allowed to protest, however, infants will not be allowed to enter the rally. “They might be used as human shields,” he explained.
“We will try to designate separate enclosures for women to avoid untoward incidents,” said the minister.
Main opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has already said no to PTI’s call terming the proposed protests an attempt to spread anarchy and destabilising democratic structure of the country.