Govt considering ban on PTI, says Defence Minister Khawaja Asif


ISLAMABAD, MAY 24: As the country’s political crisis deepens, the incumbent government is mulling a possible ban on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Wednesday, in light of the May 9 protests against party chairman Imran Khan’s arrest in the £190 million settlement case,

He, however, said that the matter will be referred to the Parliament for approval in the government finally decides to ban the former ruling party.

The move comes days amid political instability in the country by Khan’s arrest on May 9 on corruption charges, before he walked free on bail as per court orders.

Responding to the leaders’ call for countrywide protests, the PTI workers and supporters took to the streets, but the demonstrations turned deadly as they attacked public and private property including military installations and buildings. They also resorted to arson and burned the Corp Commander House, also known as the Jinnah House, in Lahore.

The armed forces have, since then, resolved to try the arsonists and those involved in anti-state activities on the day of the protests under relevant laws, including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.

“The PTI has attacked the very basis of the state, that never happened before. It can’t be tolerated”, Asif said while addressing a presser in Islamabad on Wednesday.

“Is there a crime that didn’t happen on May 9?” he asked.

Indian nefarious designs behind May 9 protests
Asif said that the miscreants involved in the violent episode had nefarious motives.

“The PTI has challenged the state’s writ. He has nefarious ambitions that could only be of an Indian and not a Pakistani,” the minister said.

He said whatever Khan did was “celebrated in India”.

Referring to the events that unfolded ahead of the vote of no confidence against Imran Khan in April last year, Khawaja Asif said: “All the steps taken by Imran Khan after April 9 have cost him. We did not harm him. He is suffering due to his own actions.”

“All the evidence is surfacing that the May 9 events took place under a plan, he said, adding that the miscreants had been facilitated.

He said that the planning for terrorist acts had been going on for a year. The suspects who had been arrested in relation with the incidents of violence revealed that the attacks were pre-planned.

“Attacking military installations was Imran Khan’s last resort. The events of May 9, challenged the writ of the state,” Asif said.

The minister went on to say that PTI had challenged the state.

The minister then announced that May 9 will be observed to honour the martyrs as the entire world respects their martyrs.

‘A political party cannot be banned’: PTI lawyer
Meanwhile, PTI lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar has rubbished the possibility of a ban on the party, saying that the political parties cannot be banned.

The statement came in response to a question during media talk outside Supreme Court. The lawyer referred to a past case of banning Jamat-e-Islami (JI).

“An attempt had been made to ban Jamat-e-Islami a long time ago but the Supreme Court ruled that a ban cannot be imposed as it was a basic right of everyone to create a political party,” Zafar said.

He said that as far as the riots were concerned, it was an individual act if anyone engages in vandalism. He said that an action can be taken against the vandals but the party cannot be banned on its basis.

Zafar further stated that there were different laws for dealing with any entity spreading chaos and terror.

“The same court (SC) would nullify it in a single day of hearing in case such a step is taken,” he said while referring to the possible restriction on PTI.