- Qureshi dodges questions about his condemnation of violence.
- Claims party has always supported and promoted peaceful protests.
- Asad Umar says planned conspiracy was behind violence, vandalism.
Despite Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) claim of not supporting any kind of violence, the party leadership has not condemned acts of violence, vandalism and arson that resulted in the damage of state properties on Tuesday and Wednesday across major cities in the country following Imran Khan’s arrest.
Clashes and incidents of violence ensued as the supporters throughout the country protested the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan in a corruption case on Tuesday.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, when asked about the violent protests in Lahore — including the attack on the Corps Commander House, the breach of the GHQ, and the attacks on the police force — said that it had never been his party’s policy to incite or instigate violence.
When prompted to tell if he condemned the violence, Qureshi reiterated that PTI’s policy over the years had been to stay peaceful in its rallies and protests, and that the “state elements” tasked to conduct the violence were behind the recent incidents, The News reported.
Despite being asked repeatedly if he denounced incidents that took place during the protests, the PTI leader maintained the stance that the “maneuverings and machinations” of state officials were what he condemned and the “state media” was the one painting a negative picture of PTI to be linked with the violence.
Earlier, speaking to Geo News PTI Secretary General Asad Umar also commented on who was “behind” the violence unleashed on state buildings and other areas on Tuesday.
Calling it an “interesting” development that needs to be looked into, Umar wondered whether people had been taken to these sites to protest and vandalise in a properly planned conspiracy so that these acts could then be blamed on the PTI.
He reiterated that the PTI’s instructions — also by Imran Khan — to its supporters were to remain peaceful. On being asked whether the military can be targeted in such protests, Umar refused to answer the question.
Throughout the day on both Tuesday and Wednesday, the official Twitter accounts of the PTI continued to upload details of arrests and what they say was state high-handedness with their leaders and supporters.
However, there was no official condemnation on any of the social media accounts of the party whether about the fire at Radio Pakistan in Peshawar or the torching of an Edhi ambulance or the attack on Jinnah House in Lahore.
The official Twitter account of the PTI did, however, put up a video saying: “Beware of these namaloom afrads in your protests. This man, who turned out to be from government agencies, was instigating our supporters to be violent, posing as a PTI supporter; when challenged, he did not know who his MPA was. He then ran away.”