ISLAMABAD - Giving a hint that ruling PTI was considering the option of snap polls in the wake of the present political crisis in the country, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Saturday said he had advised Prime Minister Imran Khan to call early elections after presenting a budget for the next fiscal year.

“The popularity of Prime Minister Imran Khan had increased manifold  following the opposition’s no-trust move against him and it was the right time for him to avail the opportunity,” the interior minister said while addressing a press conference here at the Ministry of Interior.

He quickly added that this was his personal opinion that PM Khan should take advantage of his increasing popularity, but after presenting ‘pro-poor’ budget. He recalled that the premier had rejected his earlier proposal of imposition of governor’s rule in Sindh.

He said that PM Khan would comfortably win the next general election due to the opposition’s move. Calling the opposition as mindless, he alleged that it was indulged in making mockery of democracy through open sale and purchase of votes to make its no-trust motion successful.

The interior minister said that voting on the no-confidence motion was likely to take place on April 3 or 4, and indicated that there would be some further delay in tabling the motion in the National Assembly.

He ensured that the interior ministry would provide full security to the opposition parties for their upcoming rallies in Islamabad as well to all lawmakers, participating in voting on no-trust resolution. At the same time, he warned that an action would be taken if the opposition held a sit-in in the capital. He said that nobody would be allowed to block another party’s route as well as making attempt to enter the Red Zone.

Interior minister says ‘big names involved’ in campaign against security forces

Keep roads open in any case: Islamabad High Court

Sheikh Rashid said that Islamabad’s Srinagar Highway had been handed over to Rangers and FC while 15000 security personnel will be performing security duty in the capital.

He said the federal government also has the authority to call in the army under Article 245 of the Constitution. He hoped that the situation would not reach a point where the ministry would be compelled to take extreme measures.

About a campaign being run on social media against the army, he said that he has asked the Federal Investigation Agency’s director general to arrest all those who were campaigning against the security forces of Pakistan. “There are big names involved that are running the campaign,” he said.

The interior minister said that PPP MNA Jam Abdul Karim would be arrested from the airport on his return from Dubai. It is being expected that opposition MNA, who earlier had been declared an absconder by a court in the Nazim Jokhio murder case, is retuning Pakistan to vote for the no-trust motion.

“Authorities will arrest him from the airport and hand him over to Sindh police,” he said, adding, the federal government had not received any notice about his bail.

The minister said that MNA’s name will also be sent to Interpol as the Sindh Home Department will not send his name because the PPP needed his vote in the no-rust motion.

A day earlier, a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court granted 10-day protective bail to the lawmaker. The MNA, along with his brother, PPP MPA Jam Awais and others, has been booked for allegedly murdering Jokhio for filming a group of foreigners hunting endangered houbara bustard.

Later in the day, the Exit Control List (ECL) committee of the Cabinet met here and recommended placement of names of all accused/co-accused including MNA Karim on ECL in Nazim Jokhio murder case.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has further directed the FIA director general to issue a ‘Red Warrant’ through Interpol to arrest MNA from Dubai, it was added.

‘Islamabad High Court’

Islamabad High Court has also directed the Islamabad Capital Administration to keep the roads open in any case. In a statement issued on Saturday, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that the Court had issued this direction on the request of the Interior Ministry. He said no political party will be allowed to set up a theater in the federal capital city. He urged all political parties to avoid blocking roads.