- Interior minister says govt preparing proposal to designate areas where protests can take place in federal capital
- Says PM Nawaz has never denied owning Mayfair property, Opp welcome to probe Panama Papers but investigations should start from Surrey Palace
Federal Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday expressed the government’s resolve to not allow holding of any protest demonstration at D-Chowk or F-9 Park “to protect the integrity of the federal capital”.
“We cannot let any protest take place at D-Chowk or F-9 Park of Islamabad,” Nisar told reporters in a press conference.
The statement came a day after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan announced to stage protests in Raiwind if the government failed to conduct an independent probe into the Panama Papers revelations regarding the Sharif family’s offshore wealth.
The PTI chairman had also said the government has time until April 24 to meet the demand.
Talking about the popular areas for protests in the federal capital, Nisar said, “If the protest is to be staged in Islamabad, we will need an assurance that it will not proceed past the designated area,” adding, “This is not a matter of freedom of expression but about the integrity and basic human rights of the citizens of Islamabad.”
We are bringing about a proposal to designate areas where protests can take place, and it will be presented before the federal cabinet and political parties, the interior minister said. He added that the protest will not be staged free from all restrictions. “Legal actions will be taken to maintain the writ of the State.”
“If any casualty takes place because of an administrative police action to bar the protesters, those organising the protests will be held responsible,” he said.
“Let peace and sanity prevail,” he said while raising a question: why cannot a dialogue take place to end the politics of protests. “Protests staged earlier resulted in causing a loss of Rs1 billion to the exchequer and sent a bad message of the federal capital to the world.”
Nisar made it clear that he was not against a probe and that a thorough probe into Panama Papers revelations should take place. Political leaders, including leaders of opposition in parliament, should present themselves for investigation and accountability, he added.
“If Imran Khan wants an investigation by the Federal Investigation Agency, he can name any officer and we will nominate him for the purpose,” he added.
He went on to say, “We have to take this case to its logical conclusion for the awareness of masses and refrain from a politics of blame game.”
When asked to comment on PTI’s nominated person Dr Shoaib Suddle for the probe, the interior minister said that he respected Suddle, “but he is not an official of the FIA”.
Referring to allegations that PM Nawaz’s family had amassed assets in foreign countries, Nisar said that Nawaz had never denied his ownership of Mayfair property in London.
“Everyone knows that Benazir Bhutto had signed a Charter of Democracy at the Mayfair residence,” Nisar said.
Criticising the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Nisar said that all the PPP legislatures who are creating fuss over Panama Papers should demand beginning of investigation from Surrey Palace.
“The same Panama Papers disclosed that PPP senators have 34 offshore companies,” he said, adding that the opposition members should also present themselves for probe.