ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has decided to impose a ban on rallies in the federal capital, the country's interior ministry said on Friday, saying protests aimed at spreading "chaos and unrest" would not be allowed in Islamabad.
The decision comes two days after former Prime Minister Imran Khan led a long march to the capital to demand fresh elections. The government had blocked major roads and highways to the capital, leading to a long day of drama that saw clashes between police and marchers in major cities across the country.
Khan last month became the first Pakistani prime minister to be removed from power through a no-confidence vote in parliament. He has blamed his ouster on a "foreign conspiracy" and since embarked on a campaign to force the new government to announce snap polls.
"Decision taken to impose permanent ban on the entry of rallies and processions in the capital Islamabad aimed at spreading chaos and unrest," the interior ministry said in a statement after a policy meeting chaired by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
"The Islamabad administration has been directed to take further effective measures to obstruct the way of disruptive marches."
The interior ministry said the state had decided to adopt a "zero-tolerance" policy against violent demonstrators.
Sanaullah said the government would not allow "miscreants" and "hooligans" to take the country hostage.
"The state is responsible for the security of life and property of citizens," he was quoted as saying in the statement. “State institutions must ensure law and order at all cost.”
Khan, who left Islamabad on Thursday morning after issuing a six-day ultimatum to the government to announce fresh elections, on Friday said he had called off Wednesday's anti-government protest fearing violence and bloodshed.