Pakistan: Court moves to block opposition ‘siege’

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) A Pakistani high court Thursday issued orders blocking opposition parties from a planned “siege” of the capital Islamabad meant to force an independent inquiry of money laundering allegations against the premier’s family.

After hearing several petitions filed by pro-government lawyers and citizens, Justice Shahid Akhtar Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court declared that the “fundamental rights of a common man cannot be compromised in the name of protest”.

Reacting to the court orders, former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice-chair of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), the country’s second-largest opposition party, told reporters that his party would go ahead with its plans of a “peaceful protest,” as it was not the PTI but the government which was locking down the capital in the name of security.

In his ruling, the judge also ordered the government not to block the roads and streets in the name of security on the occasion of the planned protest, originally set for next week.

The PTI, led by cricket hero Imran Khan, and its allies, planned the siege if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif failed to agree to an independent inquiry into corruption allegations emerging from the Panama Papers leaks earlier this year.

Sharif has been under pressure from opposition parties and the media after the leak revealed that his two sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz and his daughter Mariyam Nawaz owned offshore companies.

The country’s Supreme Court last week issued notices to Sharif, his two sons, his daughter and a son-in-law on five separate petitions seeking investigations into the allegations.

Khan has said, however, that he will go ahead with the protest despite the legal proceedings.

An Islamabad anti-terror court last Friday ordered the arrests of Khan and his ally, the controversial cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, for attacking the state-run television channel headquarters during a sit-in in Islamabad in 2014.