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Govt considering banning Imran Khan’s PTI: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is considering banning former prime minister Imran Khan’s political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Wednesday.

The move comes days amid political instability in the aftermath of Khan’s arrest on May 9 on corruption charges, before he was released on bail on court orders.

“It is under consideration to ban PTI,” Asif told reporters. “The PTI has attacked very basis of the state, that never happened before. It can’t be tolerated”.

Khan’s arrest sparked deadly protests across the country, with army establishments being attacked and state buildings set ablaze.

On May 9, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested Khan from outside Islamabad High Court (IHC) in the Al-Qadir Trust Case.

Following his arrest, protests erupted across Pakistan as PTI supporters locked horns with law enforcement officials. The protests soon turned violent with party workers blocking highways, main entry and exit routes to all major cities, attacking and burning state buildings, police and public vehicles and rampaging through army installations.

Amid the ruckus, the Lahore Corps Commander House (Jinnah House) was also attacked and set on fire by vandals.

The mayhem attracted massive condemnation from the leadership and armed forces.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated that the government “will create an example out of the miscreants who vandalised and attacked state institutions so that such an incident never takes place in Pakistan again”.

He further termed the miscreants terrorists and cited that “these are anti-state activities”.

Later in a meeting of National Security Committee, the government mulled to hold trials of the attackers in military courts.

“I have recommend increasing the number of terrorist courts and enhancing their timings for trials of the miscreants,” he said.

He lamented that “protectors of the country” were attacked who had “sacrificed their lives. This is an insult to martyrs of the nation”.

The PM highlighted that the Core Commander is responsible for controlling law and order but “even his residence was not spared”.

The protests dampened after two days when the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered Khan’s “immediate release”.