Pakistan bans protest and rallies in Islamabad for 2 months
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- The Pakistani government on Thursday banned all political meetings, rallies and protests in the capital, Islamabad, ahead of a planned opposition march against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Nov. 2.
The ban will remain in force for two months, the Pakistani Ministry of Interior said in a statement.
The party of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has threatened to lockdown the capital to force Sharif to step down. Sharif faces mounting public pressure after his family members were named as holders of offshore bank accounts in leaked financial documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Sharif has defended his financial record, attempting to explain the details of his family business in parliament and in two televised speeches.
Pakistan's Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing on the scandal on Nov. 1.
Khan's party is one of the five petitioners who have approached the top court requesting an investigation into the scandal. The court has asked the prime minister to file a reply to the allegations made in the petitions in the Nov. 1 hearing. An Islamabad high court also directed Khan's party Thursday to explain by Oct. 31 what his plans are for the march against the prime minister.
Sharif's aides are calling on Khan's party to postpone the street protests and wait for the court decision.
Khan's party has alleged that the police have already started detaining its workers and harassing its leadership.
"No power can stop our rally," Khan said Thursday in a press conference. "It is our legal, democratic, constitutional right."
He vowed that his party would go ahead with the rally, come what may.