Lahore: Pakistan Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Monday warned Imran Khan that he would be arrested if he dared to launch fresh anti-government protests, and blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief for indulging in the “politics of agitation.” Mr Sanaullah fired the salvo at the former prime minister while speaking to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers at a party convention in Multan in Punjab province, according to the Dawn newspaper.
The minister’s warnings come days after Imran Khan instructed his workers and supporters to prepare for the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (fill the prison movement) against the federal government for inflicting custodial torture on his party leaders and delay in announcing fresh general elections.
“I ask the people to get ready and wait for my call for ‘jail bharo tehreek’. There will not be that much space in Pakistani jails to have them all,” Mr Khan, the 70-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician said during his television address from his Zaman Park residence here on Saturday.
Mr Khan made the announcement after sedition cases were filed against his party’s Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry and former member of the National Assembly Shandana Gulzar.
On Sunday, Mr Sanaullah blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leadership for “creating troubles”.
“In 2014, PTI staged protest demonstrations and tried to stop the journey of progress and prosperity. Imran Khan is following the politics of agitation in the shape of long marches, sealing Islamabad on the pretext of a date for elections,” the Dawn reported, quoting Mr Sanaullah.
On the PTI’s Jail Bharo movement, the interior minister said he hoped Mr Khan would be sent to the “same death cell where I was placed during my arrest,” the report said.
The minister warned that the federal government was ready to arrest Mr Khan if he dared to launch the protests, it said.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, former minister Farrukh Habib said PTI workers and leaders were waiting for Khan’s call to launch the protests against the federal government.
“The party leadership and workers are not afraid of going to jail when Imran Khan calls. I will go to jail first,” he said.
In November last year, Mr Khan was forced to suspend his long march to Islamabad following an assassination attempt on him.
Similarly, in May 2022, Mr Khan abruptly called off the “Azadi Rally,” moments after his party workers arrived at the federal capital.
Mr Khan, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022.
Since his ouster, he has stepped up the ante on the ruling coalition to announce snap polls.
However, the government has ruled out an early general election. The term of the current National Assembly will end in August.