Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on May 24 said the government is mulling a possible ban on Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party following the attacks by his supporters on military installations after the former Prime Minister’s arrest.
On May 9, violent protests erupted after the arrest of 70-year-old Mr. Khan by paramilitary Rangers. His party workers vandalised a dozen military installations, including the Lahore Corps Commander house, Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time. Police put the death toll in violent clashes to 10.
“A decision has not been taken yet, but a review is surely underway,” Mr. Asif told reporters in Islamabad.
He, however, said that the matter will be referred to the Parliament for approval if the government finally decides to ban the former ruling party, Geo News reported.
Mr. Asif claimed that the vandalism of military installations across the country on May 9 was “coordinated attacks” planned by Mr. Khan.
“There is a lot of evidence and their people are telling themselves that they were briefed about this beforehand,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper.
“I feel that his struggle of a year… all his plans failed and this was his last move against the armed forces.”
The Minister said that Mr. Khan’s party challenged the foundation of the state by “challenging the defence installations” on May 9.
“Is there any crime that was not committed on May 9? The ISI office was attacked, they tried to enter the Cantonment in Sialkot but that attack was repulsed… they also set fire to the Lahore Corps Commander’s house,” he claimed.
“Till now, he [Imran Khan] has not condemned [the violence] in clear words. He says that he did not know, he was [in custody]. He had his phone […] he repeatedly said that this reaction was expected and will happen again if he is arrested, Mr. Asif added.
Meanwhile, the party’s lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar has rubbished the possibility of a ban, saying that the political parties cannot be banned.
“An attempt had been made to ban Jamaat-e-Islami a long time ago but the Supreme Court ruled that a ban cannot be imposed as it was a basic right of everyone to create a political party,” Mr. Zafar said in response to a question during media talk outside the Supreme Court.
Mr. Khan’s party said that he will address the nation at 7 p.m. tonight.
Mr. Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a U.S.-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.