Eastern Eye (UK)

Sharif: Act now against Khan ‘to save Pakistan’



PAKISTANI prime minister Shehbaz Sharif appealed to parliament on Tuesday (28) to act against predecesso­r Imran Khan over accusation­s that his party was involved in violence that erupted when police tried to arrest him for alleged corruption.

The clashes occurred earlier this month after Khan’s supporters prevented police and paramilita­ry forces from detaining him over allegation­s that he unlawfully sold state gifts during his 2018-22 tenure as premier. He denies any wrongdoing.

Last week, interior minister Rana Sanaullah asked for a parliament­ary ruling to empower authoritie­s to crack down on Khan’s party and his supporters.

“Did you ever see law enforcemen­t officers going to serve a court summons on someone and then being attacked with petrol bombs?” Sharif said in a speech telecast live.

“I’m appealing to this parliament these things need to be taken care of immediatel­y. This house has to take action today if we want to save Pakistan,” he said, adding: “Enough is enough. Now law has to take its course.”

Sharif did not spell out what action he wanted the parliament to take against Khan.

Some of his ministers have called for a ban on Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, but it was not clear whether the government was seeking this from parliament.

Sharif’s coalition government, which took office after a parliament­ary vote of no confidence ousted former cricket star Khan last year, has alleged that the former leader’s supporters had Islamist militants among them.

Since being removed, Khan has been demanding early elections and holding protests across the country to press his case.

The clashes between Khan’s supporters and security forces have brought a new flareup of political instabilit­y to the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, which is in the middle of a crippling economic crisis.

Khan claimed that the government and the powerful military are trying to stop him from contesting the next election, which is scheduled for November. Both the government and military deny this.

If convicted in any case, Khan could be disqualifi­ed from the vote.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s human rights commission rebuked feuding political parties on Tuesday for underminin­g democracy.

“We are aware there is a very menacing and irresponsi­ble opposition here which has made use of violence, humiliated police and destroyed the law and order,” the commission chairperso­n, Hina Jilani, told a news conference in Lahore.

“Despite that, we are forced to say we do not expect such behaviour by the state and government which includes retaliator­y measures, vindictive and vengeful measures.”

Khan dissolved the two local parliament­s he controlled at the start of the year in a bid to disrupt Sharif’s government.

Caretaker government­s, which are severely limited in their day-to-day operations, are in place in the two dissolved parliament­s of Khyber Pakhtunkhw­a and Punjab.

Under the constituti­on, elections must be held within 90 days, a deadline just a few weeks away. However, the election commission refused to set a date after the military said it was unable to ensure security.

The date of the elections are now tied up in legal wrangling.

“The dissolutio­n of the assemblies were a very dangerous and incorrect political strategy in my view, and there was an agenda behind it,” Jilani said of Khan’s move.

“Despite that, we believe regular elections in Pakistan are extremely important.”

Khan sent his MPs back to the upper house on Tuesday, a year after he was ousted in a no-confidence vote and ordered his allies to abandon parliament.

He has since been snarled in dozens of legal cases, including for sedition and under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism act.

“Ultimately, the crux of the ongoing crisis is political and not legal,” Jilani, a supreme court lawyer, said in a statement.

“There is no other option for the political opposition and the government but to hold serious and meaningful dialogue in parliament to resolve this in the larger interests of Pakistan’s people.”

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 ?? ?? TENSE TIMES: Imran Khan (centre) leaves a Lahore court last week; and (inset above left) his supporters hold a rally in Karachi
TENSE TIMES: Imran Khan (centre) leaves a Lahore court last week; and (inset above left) his supporters hold a rally in Karachi

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