ISLAMABAD, May 15 (PTI): Pakistan’s ruling coalition on Monday staged a demonstration outside the Supreme Court to protest against some of the recent rulings of the judiciary which they said provided blanket relief to former Prime Minister Imran Khan in a number of cases.
Demonstrators, belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), have entered the Red Zone while the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has set up a stage in front of the Supreme Court, Dawn News reported.
The protesters earlier made an entrance into the red zone despite Section 144 still in effect in the federal capital and announced they would launch a sit-in outside the Supreme Court between 1 pm and 2 pm.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of PDM — a ruling alliance of 13 political parties, on Friday, had announced to stage the sit-in outside the Supreme Court against Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial for facilitating Khan.
Chaudhry Shafay Hussain, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) politician and son of party supremo Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, said their convoy has reached Islamabad to participate in the protest outside the apex court.
PML-N leaders Hanif Abbasi and Sardar Naseem are also joining the protest, leading their convoy from Rawalpindi.
Dawn News reported that all routes going toward the Red Zone were closed to traffic.
A PDM caravan has set out to join the protest in Islamabad from the Swat Motorway in Malakand. The protestors are being led by PML-N’s provincial Joint Secretary Muhammad Najeem Khan.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz Sharif will visit the coalition parties’ sit-in outside the Supreme Court and address protesters.
Meanwhile, ousted prime minister Imran Khan, 70, said that on the one hand, PDM “goons” facilitated by security agencies were trying to “take over” the Supreme Court and subverting the Constitution while on the other hand, the government was clamping down on PTI workers with at least 7,000 arrested and dozens of unarmed protestors killed.
The cricketer-turned-politician, who has a massive following in Pakistan, urged all citizens to be ready for peaceful protests, citing that it would be the end of Pakistan’s dream once the Constitution and Supreme Court were destroyed.
“So without any investigation into who was responsible for arson on a government building or dozens of deaths of unarmed protesters by bullet wounds, around 7000 PTI workers, leadership and our women have been jailed with plans to ban the largest and only federal party in Pak. Meanwhile, these goons are being facilitated by our security agencies to take over the SC and subvert the constitution. All citizens be ready for peaceful protests as once the constitution and Supreme Court are destroyed, it is the end of the Pak dream.” Khan tweeted.
“PDM workers reach outside the gate of the Supreme Court. Protestors have entered the Red Zone, but the situation is peaceful,” Geo News quoted an Islamabad Police spokesperson as saying.
Talks between the JUI-F and authorities over the location of the protest failed, and the party after the failure of the talks vowed to hold its protest outside the Supreme Court.
Khan was on Friday granted bail by the Supreme Court of Pakistan after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested the ousted prime minister in a corruption case.
Khan has said the JUI-F “drama” that is being done outside the Supreme Court is only for one purpose — to overawe the Chief Justice of Pakistan so that he does not give a verdict according to the Constitution.
Khan’s arrest by the Pakistan Rangers at the IHC premises last Tuesday triggered unrest in Pakistan that continued till Friday and led to several deaths and dozens of military and state installations being destroyed by the protesters.
For the first time in the country’s history, the protesters stormed the army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and also torched the historic Corps Commander’s House in Lahore.
Police put the death toll in violent clashes to 10 while Khan’s party claims 40 of its workers lost their lives in the firing by security personnel.