Protesters in Islamabad ‘contacted India’, claims Pakistan interior minister
Islamabad: Pakistan’s interior minister Ahsan Iqbal claimed on Saturday that the hardline religious parties staging protest for than two weeks in Islamabad had “contacted India”, and the government was investigating “why they did it”. Iqbal did not give any details about his claim.
In an interview to Dawn News, he said the hundreds of protesters gathered in the national capital were “not simple people”. “We can see that they have various resources at their disposal. They have fired teargas shells [at security forces], they also cut the fibre-optic cables of cameras monitoring their protest,” he told the network.
Iqbal claimed that the protesters had also “contacted India”. “Why they did it, we are looking into it. They have inside information and resources that are being used against the state.”
Nearly 2,000 activists of Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and other religious groups have been protesting in Islamabad since 6 November, demanding law minister Zahid Hamid’s resignation for changes made to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, or the finality of the prophethood oath in the Elections Act 2017 passed in September. They have blocked the main roads connecting Islamabad with its only airport and the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
The Islamabad high court on Friday asked interior minister Iqbal to explain by next week why he should not be charged with contempt for failing to act to end the protests. On Saturday, a security official was killed and more than 150 others were injured in clashes after police and paramilitary forces launched an operation to disperse the protesters.
“Our administration is acting on the court’s orders and we are completely supporting them,” Iqbal said. “We have made all peaceful efforts, but we are forced to act as the group has not budged. These people do not know that anti-Pakistan elements are using this to spread malice against Pakistan,” he said.
Iqbal also insisted that as Muslims “we all believe in” Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, and that the modification to the law has made it more effective than before. “The last thing Pakistan needs is the instigation of agitation using people’s religious sentiment.”