ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Monday that he would rather resign than be a ‘puppet minister’.
Addressing the media after being disallowed by the Rangers to enter the court complex where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s hearing is under way, Iqbal said the Islamabad chief commissioner was coordinating the security arrangements for today’s hearing.
“This morning, however, the situation had changed and the Rangers had taken over security [of the judicial complex],” said Iqbal, explaining that in Islamabad the Rangers operate on the directions of the chief commissioner.
The minister said that the Rangers claimed to have “their own orders”, adding that this is a deplorable state of affairs which demands being taken notice of.
“Rangers are subordinate to my ministry..they’re supposed to work under the command of the civil administration. If Rangers have refused to observe orders, a high-level inquiry will be held and we will see who has challenged the writ of the government,” said a visibly upset Iqbal.
“I waited for the Rangers commander for 15 minutes, this is unacceptable, Whosoever has done this, disciplinary action will be taken against him. I will resign as I will not be a puppet minister. A force that is subordinate to me has to follow my orders. There cannot be two states [within a state],” said Iqbal.
Earlier, Iqbal explained that it is the right of Nawaz’s supporters, legal aides and media to attend the hearing as “closed trials are a hallmark of martial laws”. He said the commissioner had made special arrangements for those who wanted to attend the hearing as space is limited.
‘Not a banana republic’
Later, Iqbal also admonished an assistant commissioner for the state of affairs, asking the official to give him what has occurred today in writing so Iqbal could “sort them out”. The minister said this is not a banana republic, it is a constitutional republic.
Once Iqbal had left the premises, the Rangers’ brigadier stepped out of the complex to inquire into the situation and spoke to Federal Minister Daniyal Aziz. However, soon a number of media personnel and lawyers surrounded them and began chanting “shame, shame”, after which the officer went back to the court complex.
When the hearing of corruption cases began earlier today, the security personnel did not allow any media persons of PML-N supporters to enter the premises.
When the interior minister reached the complex, he too, was barred by the Rangers from entering. Upon this, he ordered for the Rangers’ commanding officer, a Brigadier-ranked officer, to come out of the courtroom and discuss the matter with him. However, that did not happen all of a sudden.
Iqbal, who is the head of paramilitary forces, including Rangers, was accompanied by State Interior Minister Talal Chaudhry and others.