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Opposition Outcry As Police Storm Parliament Lodges, Detain Several JUI-F ‘Guards’

| Clashes between several MPs, police occur during operation | Ansar ul Islam a peaceful group: Fazl | Law breakers to be ‘crushed’, warns Sh Rashid

ISLAMABAD   –   The Islamabad police Thursday night stormed into the Parliament Lodges and apprehended as many as 18 private guards of JUI-F (commonly known as Ansaar Ul Islam Brigade) including two JUI-F MNAs Salahuddin Ayubi and Maulana Jamal-ud-Din.

The arrested persons were moved to Secretariat Police Station for further investigation.

DIG Operations Awais Ahmed and SSP (Operations) Muhammad Faisal Kamran led the police operation to evacuate the Parliament Lodges where dozens of body guards of Ansaar Ul Islam Brigade made their forceful entry.

According to a police spokesman, IGP Muhammad Ahsan Younas have suspended six police officers deputed for security of the Parliament Lodges for their failure in stopping the Ansaar Ul Islam activists from entering into the building.

Several parliamentarians of the PPP and PML-N were also present in the Lodges at the time of the police operation.

However, in order to stop arrests, the irate workers of Ansaar Ul Islam reportedly tortured the driver of a police mobile van outside the Parliament Lodges.

Clashes also occurred between the police force and several parliamentarians residing in Parliament Lodges.

PML-N MNA Khawaja Saad Raffique reportedly suffered slight injuries when the police stormed into his room.

According to sources, it all started when dozens of workers of Ansaar Ul Islam, wearing shalwar kameez, stormed into the Parliament Lodges to set up a camp inside apparently to guard the JUI-F MPs residing in the Lodges.

The authorities, on getting information of the development, alerted the capital police which carried out an operation in the Parliament Lodges.

Under command of DIG and SSP Operations, riot gear cops entered the Parliament Lodges and started arresting the workers of private force of JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazal Ur Rehman.

Clashes also occured when the police stormed into the room of MNA Salahuddin Ayubi after breaking his room door. PPP MNA Agha Rafiullah also exchanged hot words with the police. Both were arrested by the police, the sources said.

Following the police action in the Parliament Lodges, scores of other MPs (mostly belonging to opposition parties) came out on road and condemned the operation.

Maulana Fazal Ur Rehman of the JUI-F also rushed to the scene and declared the police action as injustice and unfair.

“We had prior reports that police would pick up our MNAs who presented the no-confidence motion against the prime minister and that was why we had sent our private guards to secure these MPs,” he said.

He also announced to hand himself over to police and directed the members of the Ansaar Ul Islam to reach Islamabad besides staging protest demonstrations and blocking roads in their respective areas.

Meanwhile, the police rounded up the detained workers of Ansaar Ul Islam and took them to Secretariat police station for investigation.

President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Ashan Bhoon meanwhile alleged police arrested former president of bar Kamran Murtaza and also misbehaved with him. He announced countrywide strike in courts.

A police spokesman Inspector Nahim shared with media that the police had not arrested MNAs Salahuddin Ayubi and Jamal Uddin. “Rather, both the MPs are sitting in office of SHO PS Aabpara with their own sweet will and not ready to leave the police station,” he said.

He said both the MPs are insisting to get the release of detained workers of Ansaar Ul Islam.

“Ansaar Ul Islam Force has been declared as banned outfit by federal and provincial governments on October 24, 2019,” he said.

Meanwhile, the police force of twin cities have beefed up security in Rawalpindi and Islamabad ahead of announcement of Maulana Fazl Ur Rehman of blocking roads and staging protests by his party workers against the police operation.

He also called on his party workers to gather in the capital or block roads in the respective cities to condemn the police action.

“Our volunteers got here peacefully,” he said. “They (police) stormed into our lodges and attacked our MNAs.

“I want to tell my party workers to either reach Islamabad or block roads in their cities and resist this incompetent govt,” he added.

Fazl, while talking to a TV channel, called for immediate release of his party’s workers and volunteers, also demanding an apology from the authorities.

“We demand that our MNAs and others be released and that they apologise,” he said. “We have declared war and will not forgive them for this terrorism.”

Following Rehman’s call, JUI-F’s Sindh chapter announced that it was staging sit-in protests in Jacobabad and Sukkur as well as Karachi’s Super Highway, Hub River Road and National Highway. A sit-in was also staged at Hyderabad Toll Plaza and the road was blocked for traffic.

Meanwhile, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has assured the government that Ansar ul Islam is a peaceful group and they will never take law into their hands.

While addressing media after a meeting with Baluchistan National Party (BNP) Chief Akhtar Mengal, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that Prime Minister Imran Khan should not be worried, saying that they were peaceful and the government should not label this peaceful group as extremist.

He said that important meetings were going on among the political parties of the country, adding that the people of Pakistan will soon get rid of this fake regime.

While criticising the police action against the JUI workers, Fazl said that police had nothing to do with a peaceful group of people.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal on the occasion said that they had parted ways with the government over some issues. He maintained that they held meaningful discussion over the no-confidence motion against the prime minister.

Meanwhile, Former President of Pakistan and President Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians Asif Ali Zardari yesterday strongly condemned the police raid and brutality in the Parliament Lodges and manhandling of parliamentarians.

Zardari, in a statement, alleged that the prime minister was “harassing the members of parliament”.

He added: “Attempts are being made to intimidate not only JUI members but also all parliamentarians. Police officers and administration should not follow illegal orders of the puppet government.”

He asked the parliamentarians to keep their spirit high. Zardari said that the government is taking the last hiccups.

Meanwhile, Amid an uproar of opposition parties on a police operation inside the Parliament Lodges, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Thursday blamed the opposition for resorting to violence and warned that anyone violating the law would be ‘crushed’.

In a hurriedly called late night press conference at the Ministers’ Enclave, Sheikh Rashid said that the opposition was doing this out of frustration after seeing that it couldn’t show support of at least 172 MNAs to make successful its no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“Those who are resorting to violence and are involved in arson attacks would be crushed,” he asserted.

The interior minister said that at least 70 members of Ansarul Islam, a uniformed volunteer force of the JUI-F, had attacked the Parliament Lodges despite the government had dissolved the organization in October 2019 under the law. “No one is allowed to operate any private militia.” He also said that the police had not arrested two MNAs of JUI-F and they were sitting in the police station on their own.

He further informed that Islamabad Police had arrested at least 19 members of Ansarul Islam while around 50 of its personnel fled in plain clothes. He blamed that the members of the force had subjected the police personnel to violence. The government held five-hour long negotiations with them before making arrests but they made a drama in the lodges, he added. “This country is not a Banana state.”

Responding to the countrywide call of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to its workers to hold strike and block roads today as a protest against the police action, the interior minister said that all provincial inspectors general of police and chief secretaries had been ordered to take action against those who would take the law into their hands. He said that it would be the responsibility of the police chief concerned to ensure that roads remain opened.

Sheikh Rashid said that bringing a no-trust resolution was the democratic right of the opposition parties but they had created an atmosphere of unrest and chaos in the country during the last two weeks.

The interior minister said that the police had busted a network of terrorists on the outskirts of Islamabad recently and the life of JU-F chief Fazlur Rehman was under threat besides he himself was facing life threats. “We want peace in the country,” he said and again warned the opposition not to create a crisis in the country.

He stressed that the government wanted to facilitate the opposition to complete the process of no-trust resolution but the latter was frustrated to see itself failing. He suggested to the opposition that the government was ready to provide security of Rangers and FC to its MNAs if they were not satisfied with the security provided by police.

He concluded that the “no-trust move has faced defeat.” He also quickly added that the opposition should not blame the government if it found missing 12 MNAs from its ranks on the voting day.

Meanwhile, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said on Thursday that Prime Minister’s office was being used to hurl threats at mainstream political leaders. “Unfortunate that office of the prime minister is being used to hurl naked threats at the mainstream political leaders. When the curtains fall, what will be Imran Khan’s legacy except vendetta, abusive words, & grand betrayal of the people?,” he tweeted on his twitter handle.