The incumbent government—comprising the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance and the Pakistan Peoples Party—on Monday called for legal proceedings against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) over clashes between its workers and law enforcers at the Judicial Complex in Islamabad last week.
PTI chief Imran Khan was to appear before Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal on March 18, however clashes between party workers and security personnel prevented this from happening, and he left the venue without even setting foot outside his car. In a subsequent address, he claimed he had refused to enter the building because he feared the government wanted to either assassinate or arrest him.
Leaders of the political parties comprising the government met at the Prime Minister’s House on Monday, issuing a statement condemning attacks on police and Rangers personnel “on the directions” of the PTI chairman. Expressed solidarity with law enforcers, the participants said strict action should be taken against anyone who had broken the law. They also described the attacks on law enforcers as an “enmity” with the state, stressing this cannot be tolerated.
“The entire nation witnessed that the PTI is not a political party but a group of trained militants,” read the statement, adding that action would be taken as per law in line with available evidence. It said that the PTI was acting less like a political party and more “a gang of miscreants trained by outlawed groups.”
Echoing an earlier statement of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the meeting also condemned a “smear campaign” on social media against state intuitions generally and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Asim Munir specifically. Referring to the Lahore High Court granting the PTI chief bail in 9 separate cases—including those not within its jurisdiction—the statement maintained that the judicial system’s treatment of Khan and his aides was worsening impressions of bias. “Two different standards of justice are not acceptable in one country,” it added.
The meeting’s participants also expressed concern over an alleged audio tape of ex-chief justice Saqib Nisar and PTI lawyer Khawaja Tariq Rahim, condemning “objectionable” remarks from them about PMLN Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz.
The statement said that a joint session of Parliament would be held on Wednesday (tomorrow), adding that the people involved in the violence on March 18 would be arrested. It cited the meeting’s participants as agreeing that general elections should be held simultaneously nationwide.
In addition to a meeting between the political leaders, a second meeting was also conducted that included the Army chief and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum.