Doubts about the March | Pakistan Today

Doubts about the March

  • Interior Minister showing signs of impatience

Interior Minister Brig (retd) Ijaz Shah does not approve of JUI(F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s intention of holding a Million-March on Islamabad, and in an interaction with the press after inaugurating the Police Facilitation Centre in Islamabad on Wednesday, he made his feelings clear. However, he also made clear that his grounds for opposing the March did not rise above the partisan. He said that unjustified demands could not be the basis for removing the government. He is right, but who determines that grounds are unjustified? Not one of the interested parties, surely?

He also said that the timing of the March was wrong. While comparing it to the sit-in by Imran Khan in 2014, he said the situation was entirely different. He might find that any attempt to find any difference might end with casting a lurid light on where the 2014 protesters drew their strength, a light for which they would not be grateful. He also said that Section 144 had been imposed in the Red Zone and no one would be allowed to take the law into their own hands. That is valid, but to go from there to predicting that the Maulana would not come to Islamabad on the 27th would be to predict that law and order might break down. As the Interior Minister, he would surely not want that to happen, as it would if the contingency plan the Maulana has already spoken of, had to be implemented. However, how can he predict the movement of any citizen unless he already intends to ensure his arrest? He should not forget that the imposition of Section 144, with its concomitant ban on gatherings of five persons or more, has time and again proved a law with which the judiciary has been uncomfortable.

Brigadier Shah should realise that he no longer serves a military ruler, as he did as DG Intelligence Bureau for Gen Pervez Musharraf, but an elected Prime Minister, and is responsible for keeping the peace while allowing the freedoms of movement and expression allowed in the Constitution. The essence of democracy is to allow free competition, not to maintain the government of the day in office.