As the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) kicked off its much-hyped long march to the federal capital to force the ruling coalition to call early elections, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Friday warned party chief Imran Khan that Red Zone was government's "red line" which should not be crossed.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Sanaullah threatened that any untoward situation will be dealt with iron hands as no one was above the law.
The minister rebutted PTI leader Azam Khan Swati’s allegations regarding his arrest and handing over to security personnel, saying that no medical report has been submitted by him to support his allegations.
Read more: ‘PTI marchers to be stopped from entering Red Zone’
He said Azam Khan Swati’s allegations are baseless and will be challenged legally.
Condemning the allegations of Swati, Sanaullah said that FIA's case against the PTI leader was lawful, completing all legalities.
He said that Swati remained under FIA's custody throughout the investigation and it was not even demanded by any other institution. "We treated him according to the law during the custody and even medical facility was provided to him properly," he added.
'Attacking capital to have dire consequences'
Earlier in the day, Rana Sanaullah, talking to the media after inaugurating the Passport Office at Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bar, warned that those who “attack” the federal capital will be "met with such dire consequences that no one will ever think of committing such an act again”.
The minister said that the government was prepared to deal with anyone attempting to break the law with an iron fist. Warning protesters of "strict action", Sanaullah said "if they [protesters] abide by the law, we will facilitate them".
"We will fulfil our responsibility according to the situation. If they are coming to march on Islamabad, they should understand that no group will be allowed to march on the capital".
Read 'Imran, Vawda to be probed in Sharif murder case'
He urged the nation to reflect on "this kind of thinking", adding that "a lot has been revealed about the case of Arshad Sharif. Who helped him go abroad, who issued the false threat alert". He also said that the full report on the matter will be presented to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
On the question of potentially imposing governor's rule in Punjab, the interior minister said that the issue rested with the Cabinet. However, he added that "if any such situation arises, I will move a summary".
It may also be noted that during a hearing at the Supreme Court (SC) over the PTI's May 25 March, the CJP had said that the march was the party’s political strategy, and everyone had the right to protest, but not be violent or damage public property. He added that the government had the authority to take action against the violation of law.
Acknowledging the SC's orders, Sanaullah said that the government would abide by the law, but added that democracy will be compromised if "mob culture" was allowed to continue to grow in the country.
"Two days ago Imran Khan said that these people could not arrest Rana Sanaullah and the Punjab government has failed."
He said that today the anti-corruption unit has withdrawn the warrant. "It was a shameful example of political revenge. Imran Khan should dismiss the Punjab government," he said.
Commenting on the press conference held by the DG ISPR and DG ISI yesterday (Thursday), Sanaullah said that "if an institution is accused of something then it has the right to present its position with the permission of the head".
He also said that "DG ISI's conference helped the nation a great deal; a false narrative was rejected".
A day earlier, the interior minister had said the PTI could stage its long march at the federal capital’s sectors H-9 and G-9 as allocated by courts, but its participants were restricted from entering the Red Zone, which would be protected by Rangers and Pakistan Army personnel.
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