Seminaries not to be used for politics: Sheikh Rashid

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ISLAMABAD: Eleven-party opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) demonstrated another power show in Islamabad today and Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has said that the government decided to give free hand to opposition to organise a rally in the Red Zone, but nobody will be allowed to take law into hands.

Addressing a press conference in federal capital on Monday, he said no container or hurdle will be created in the way of Pakistan Democratic Movement to stage a demonstration in front of the Election Commission of Pakistan. He said ECP is a constitutional body and it is expected that the opposition will respect its sanctity.

He said the PDM should know that the Supreme Court, the Parliament House and other institutions are situated on the Constitution Avenue and the government has taken all necessary security measures for their protection.

ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Monday.

The Minister said for the first time, PDM has been allowed to organise its rally in the Red Zone and the law enforcement agencies will watch that whether any seminary student is participating in the oppositions’ rally. He said the law will take its course if anybody attempts to take law into hands.

Answering a question, Sheikh Rashid said action will be taken if any baton or uniform clad group like Ansar-ul-Islam participates in opposition’s rally.

To another question, the Minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party has submitted record of 40,000 transactions to the ECP, but the opposition is unable to produce record of just 4,000 people from whom it has received foreign funding.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad Monday said no seminary student or banned Ansar-ul-Islam militia would be allowed to participate in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) protest before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The minister warned the Ansar-ul-Islam members of action if they were spotted in the protest donning uniforms with batons.   

“We (the authorities) will keep a close eye on the protesters to ascertain if any Madrasa (seminary) student were brought by the PDM leadership. The Ulema and religious scholars should better comply with the law and avoid using their students for politicking, which is even against the sanctity of their stature.”

He said the Madaris (seminaries) were the torchbearers (minarets) of Islam and they had great esteem for them. They should not be used for political gains.

He said he chaired a meeting to take stock of the law-and-order situation, which might arise due to the PDM’s protest in the Federal Capital on Tuesday. The chief secretaries of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab also attended the meeting. He said neither the PDM had sought no permission for the protest nor the government had allowed them to do so. “It’s the first protest to be carried out in the Red Zone,” he added.

Sheikh Rashid said he had a meeting with the prime minister to discuss the measures being taken regarding the PDM’s protest. The PM had directed him to ensure that no seminary student was brought to the protest. He said the government was taking all precautionary measures were taken and the PDM leadership would hopefully abide by the law. No free hand had ever been given to anyone to hold protest in the Red Zone where all the important offices such as the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, Prime Minister Secretariat and Parliament House were situated, he added.    

Sheikh Rashid said it was PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who would have to ultimately bear the burden of the crisis as leaders of other PDM’s constituent parties would make their way out leaving him trapped in the quagmire to face the music.