ISLAMABAD - The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided not to allow the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to hold its anti-government “Azadi March” to Islamabad scheduled for today alleging that the opposition party had plans to bring armed mobs to attack the “federation.”

Speaking at a press conference here after the cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said that the PTI wanted to create chaos and disorder in the country in the name of a so-called protest march and the government has decided to stop them to ensure safety of lives and properties of citizens.

“This (march) is being held to divide the nation,” he said while flanked by some members of the federal cabinet and leaders of the allied parties in the coalition.

The interior minister said everyone had the right of freedom of expression and peaceful protest, however, the PTI did not want to be peaceful. “Had they not called it a bloody march and talked about spreading anarchy, we would not have stopped them,” he said. He said that PTI during its 2014 sit-in had violated an agreement made with the then government and entered the Red Zone of Islamabad after getting access to the capital in the name of peaceful protest.

He said that PTI has now moved from abuses to bullets and pointed out that a police constable was killed in Lahore. “Keeping in view all these things, the cabinet has decided that it would not allow to create chaos in the name of long march and they would be stopped so that they cannot propagate their misleading agenda.”

Sanaullah claimed that the PTI leadership had gathered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and was planning to use the province’s resources and forces including police to “come and attack the federation.”

| Interior minister Sana says PTI has now moved from ‘abuses’ to ‘bullets’ | Army, Rangers can be called out for Red Zone security if Islamabad admin requires

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“They want to come in the form of a mob that has no legal or constitutional status ... this cannot be allowed at any cost.”

He underlined that Chairman PTI Imran Khan directed his party members during rallies to call people from other parties as “robbers and traitors.” “This is how he wants to spread chaos and disorder.” He said that all institutions and political parties should play their role to stop this chaos. “We should nip the evil in the bud.”

The interior minister who is the key leader of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that PTI had avoided to give a commitment in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that they would remain limited to the venue proposed by them and this showed their designs.

He vowed to protect the lives and properties of the capital’s people “at all costs” and claimed that the situation would be normalized by 10pm today. He again warned that no armed people should participate in the march otherwise a strict action would be taken.

“Imran Khan and other members (of his party) must be arrested,” Sanaullah said asserting that if given a chance, they will be taken into custody.

Regarding the news of calling out the army for the security of the Red Zone, he said that Rangers and the Pakistan Army will be summoned to guard the Red Zone on the requirement of Islamabad district administration. He said that the district administration was considering to give the Red Zone under the control of the army for security but no final decision has been taken so far.

The ministers and leaders of allied parties including JUI-F’s Maulana Asad Mahmood, PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira and JWP’s Shahzain Bugti who were flanked by Sanaullah while talking to reporters affirmed that the decision to stop the long march had been taken through consensus. They said that all allies in the ruling coalition were on the same page on the issue. “We are part of the cabinet and all decisions (with regard to march) have been taken with consensus,” said Kaira, the advisor to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan.

In a related development, the federal and the provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh have clamped a ban on gatherings under Section 144 (powers to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).