ISLAMABAD: Opposition senators on Monday suggested the government to allow Imran Khan to hold long march in the capital; avoid getting panicked and refrain from adopting a violent course of action against participants of the marches scheduled for August 14.
“Nawaz Shairf was the first who brought a long march in Islamabad on August 17, 1989, from Lahore along with 1,000 buses full of party workers but that the PPP-led government at that time did not stop them; rather provided complete access without any hindrance until they returned peacefully. Similarly, the PML-N government should allow the PTI protestors and also facilitate them like ensuring provision of water etc,” Opposition Leader Aitzaz Ahsan said while starting debate over a motion tabled by another PPP senator, Raza Rabbani, to discuss the imposition of Article 245 of the constitution in the capital.
Aitzaz said that the PTI leader had been approached through several avenues in order to reduce the rising tension, including recount of votes, but it had been in vain which was most regrettable.
The opposition leader said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif needed not to worry because parliament stands by the government. He suggested that the government should lift all of the containers and instead should apologise to the nation for increasing their suffering through closing roads in Islamabad and other parts of the country. Aitzaz urged the prime minister not to create obstacles for peaceful protesters.
“Revolutions are always non-violent; so the revolution as announced by Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri cannot be genuine in light of his statements against the police,” he said.
Aitzaz added that if any untoward incident takes place, the government would not be blamed; rather Imran Khan and Dr Qadri would be held responsible if they were allowed to hold long march in the capital. “Universally, revolutions are brought by purity and without any ambiguity. In reality, revolution should be brought against those standing by the sides of people calling for revolution,” Aitzaz said in what appeared to be a veiled reference to Sheikh Rashid and the Chaudhry brothers.
The opposition leader suggested the information minister to announce on TV that Islamabad was open for all. He also advised the government to make quick decisions before it was too late and some other forces take advantage of the tussle.
Awami National party (ANP) Senator Haji Adeel said that Islamabad has been turned into a fort owing to government’s actions and added that even his party had reservations regarding accepting the 2013 general elections results but that they had accepted the PTI victory in areas traditionally won by the ANP.
He suggested that Imran Khan and Dr Qadri be treated separately because Imran has come through political process while Dr Qadri has nothing to do with politics; rather he was just a leader of a religious group.
Defending the steps taken by the government, PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan said that if the parliament came under attack, then opposition members would accuse the government of not doing enough. He said that the PML-N was not even in power when the alleged rigging had taken place. He claimed that the PTI was not the true opposition and that it only has lust for derailing democracy. He also alleged that Dr Qadri was trying to spread anarchy in the country. About delay in decisions over thumbprints verification as per demands of the PTI, he said that the matter was pertaining to the Election Commission and not the government.
PPP Senator Saber Baloch said that it was regrettable that PML-N leaders could not bring any change to their attitude. During PPP-led coalition government, he said, the Punjab chief minister always used “unique” language against the then president, Asif Ali Zardari.
PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar called for withdraw of the notification under Article 245 and urged the government to allow the police, Rangers and over 30 intelligence agencies to deal with the situation arising of the so-called Azadi March and Inqilab March.
The prime minister has been misled or forced into invoking Article 245, Babar said and called for placing the issue before the parliament. This will relieve the prime minister of pressure from elements that were behind this far-reaching decision having grave implications for the nation.
“Make no mistakes,” he urged the rulers while noting that citizens of Islamabad have been left at the mercy of law-enforcement agencies since August 1 as no high court could exercise jurisdiction under Article 199 of the constitution.
Thus, he said, no high court can entertain a petition against any illegal action; direct law-enforcement agencies to act in accordance with law; declare any action by troops as unlawful and can neither ask for a person in custody to be produced before it nor even question the law-enforcement agencies to state the law under which someone has been held.
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