Govt no longer worried about PDM’s long march after seeing attendance at ECP rally: Rashid – Pakistan

Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Tuesday hit out at leaders of the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for its rally in front of the office of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Islamabad today, saying television footage showed “not more than 3,000 people” had attended the protest.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad shortly after the PDM rally concluded, he said the PDM leaders were “forgetting that Prime Minister Imran Khan gave them the permission to enter the capital’s Red Zone”, adding that he also had the same opinion “to let you play openly”.

“After this [rally], whatever small worry we had [about the long march] has dissipated. We did not even shut the metro bus service; that is [the level of your] political strength.”

He also challenged some of the opposition’s claims, saying no one had “served more jail time than I have” for the sake of Khatm-i-Nabuwwat (finality of prophethood).

“What have you gotten into? This game is not in your destiny.”

Rashid also responded to Rehman’s remarks that the government had a “problem” with students of madressahs attending political rallies, saying: “You are inciting children. I have not talked about religious students, I have talked about children.”

“I thank the madressahs and ulema of Islamabad for showing responsibility. It was a Jummah bazaar of those hungry for power.”

Moving on to PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s speech, he advised her to read more about the Broadsheet scandal.

“You are in a lot of trouble. Another Pandora’s box and Panama 2 are opening on you. Talking about it without reading is equivalent to creating political problems for yourself,” he claimed.

Read: Broadsheet vindicates Nawaz, says Maryam

He questioned the issues that the opposition was talking about, also mocking the attendance at the rally. “After today’s show, we welcome your long march. It will be your last political act. You want to do it tomorrow, I say do it today. I will offer you Kashmiri tea.

“Which direction do you want to take the nation just [to save] your corruption, loot and dishonesty?” he asked.

The minister also lashed out at the speech of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, saying “God only help Fazlur Rehman” if the former was allowed to continue giving speeches during PDM rallies.

Referring to PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s visit to Umerkot today to celebrate his party’s win in a by-election, Rashid said Bilawal was “going on chartered flights while you (Rehman) are struggling in Islamabad”.

Responding further to the JUI-F chief and Maryam’s speeches in which they alleged that Prime Minister Imran “sold Kashmir after taking money from India”, Rashid said “nobody in the world or Pakistan has fought the case of Kashmir like Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid have.”

“No power in the world can talk against Khatm-i-Nabuwwat as long as I am interior minister,” he emphasised.

“You have exposed yourself in front of Imran Khan today,” the minister added.

‘Sharif family has made corruption into an art’

Separately, Information Minister Shibli Faraz thanked the people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad for “rejecting the narrative of opposition”, according to a report by Radio Pakistan.

He was addressing a press conference alongside Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry and Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari regarding the Broadsheet scandal.

Chaudhry criticised the Sharif family for their “corruption”, saying they had “made corruption into an art and reshaped and remodelled it”.

“The way Maryam talked to a crowd of 1,200-1,300 people today as if they were 100,000-150,000 people showed her confidence,” he said, adding that it was with the same confidence that she had earlier claimed not to have any properties in Pakistan or London.

“Before that, it was the same confidence with which she gave documents to the court using the Calibri font,” he said, in a reference to the Panamagate legal proceedings.

Mazari, while responding to Maryam’s claim that Prime Minister Imran received money from India and Israel, termed it “shameful”.

“Your father went to India with his sons and met with a businessman. Ajit Doval (India’s National Security Adviser) came to a wedding at your house. How can you say [this]?”

She added that when Nawaz Sharif went on a visit to India as prime minister, he was the first premier “to not meet the leadership of APHC (All Parties Hurriyat Conference) in Delhi”.

“What bigger link is there between India and the Sharif family?” she questioned.

She also claimed that Rehman’s representative had visited Israel. “And then they stand and tell lies in front of the nation,” she said.

Earlier today, PDM workers took out rallies in several areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad which eventually merged into one big gathering outside the ECP office where they protested against what the opposition alliance called an “unacceptable delay” in the PTI foreign funding case.

Several opposition politicians including Maryam, Rehman, Achakzai, former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) President Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Awami National Party’s (ANP) central senior vice president Amir Haider Khan Hoti and PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal addressed the rally, demanding a swift judgement in the PTI foreign funding case.

They also criticised Prime Minister Imran’s government as being “incompetent, inefficient and selected”, saying it had brought “destruction to the people of the country”.