Former prime minister Imran Khan’s latest claim that his government had never disrupted any protests and rallies is false, as there had been several instances of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government arresting peaceful protestors including students, rights activists and political workers.
His statement was in response to the police showing up at the CTI Boys High School, the venue chosen by PTI as the site of it’s rally in Sialkot tonight (Saturday), which actually belonged to the Christian community who had denied them the rights to use their land.
Claiming that his government never stopped any of PML-N’s rallies or protests because they are “committed to democracy”, he urged his supporters to show up to the new venue of the VIP Cricket Ground instead.
However Twitter users were quick to remind the former prime minister of all the times his government had done the same thing, disproving his statement.
Historian and academic Ammar Ali Jan responded to Khan’s tweet, listing a few instances in the past two years where protests and sit-ins had resulted in arrests and police clashes.
In December 2019, police charged the organizers of the Students Solidarity March – a march by students protesting for their rights, including the restoration of student unions – with sedition, and lodged FIRS against them.
The organizers included Ammar Ali Jan, Iqbal Lala (the father of Mashal Khan who was lynched by a mob in Mardan) and Alamgir Wazir (nephew of Ali Wazir).
In January 2020, the PTI government briefly arrested Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) linked MNA Mohsin Dawar while he participated in a peaceful protest in Islamabad demanding the release of PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen, who had been arrested a day before. 23 other activists were also arrested on sedition charges.
Similarly, in November 2020, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Ali Qasim Gilani, son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, was arrested along with 30 members of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), two days before they were scheduled to hold a rally in Multan.
Ali Wazir, member of the PTM, was arrested in December 2020 and has been in prison since then, marking almost 17 months spent incarcerated. He was arrested in Peshawar on account of making anti-state speeches during a PTM rally.
On May 12 it was reported that his bail hearing for the third and final case against him – after which he would be released from prison – had been delayed till May 18 due to the judge being unavailable. However today, news broke that he had been arrested yet again in relation to a case from 2018.