No bar on peaceful rallies, says minister
* Dr Waseem says government won’t let opposition create law and order
ISLAMABAD: There is no bar on political activities in Pakistan but nobody will be allowed to take the law into one’s hands, Dr Shahzad Waseem, the minister of state for interior, said on Tuesday while winding up the two-day debate in the Senate on Pakistan’s political situation.
Dr Waseem said that opposition parties had tried to create the impression that there was no political liberty in the country. “That is not true. There is no bar on political activities. It is only on rallies disturbing peace that are not allowed. Parties can hold their meetings and political gatherings,” the minister said. Dr Waseem said the government would maintain its writ in keeping the peace. “This was what happened in Lahore,” he said.
Regarding the return of Asif Ali Zardari, the minister said that Pakistan People’s Party leader Jehangir Badar first informed the government about Zardari’s programme through a letter but later started issuing threatening statements that they would take out a rally in violation of the law.
He said that the people who registered cases against Zaradri and labelled him ‘Mr 10 percent’ were now likening him to Nelson Mandela. “The opposition should praise the fact that Zardari was released on bail by the present government,” he said.
The minister said the people had rejected the politics of confrontation and sided with the people (the government) who put the country’s economy on the right track. “Yes, times are changing very fast. This is why the PPP had to call its workers to Lahore, a city of more than seven million people, to show their strength,” he said referring to the comments by senators Raza Rabbani and Safdar Abbasi.
Dr Waseem said the Pakistan Muslim League and its allied parties were united and ready to face their opponents. “We are neither happy about somebody leaving the country nor are we afraid they will return,” he said.
About the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and PONM’s strike calls, the minister said that although giving strike calls was opposition parties’ political right, the government would not allow them to force the people to close their shops and put transport on strike.