ISLAMABAD: Accusing the prime minister of lying on the floor of the National Assembly, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Friday announced that his party would expand their sit-in to rallies in Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad and Multan on Saturday.
Speaking to his supporters from atop his container on D-Chowk, Mr Khan said he would announce his next step on Sunday.
Meanwhile, PTI leaders also prevailed upon Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, who extended his latest deadline to the government by 24 hours. He said that he was waiting to hear from the army, which was acting as a go-between, mediating between the two parties and the government.
Also on Friday night, PAT and PTI leaders formally met for the first time at the sit-in venues and addressed the crowd from the PAT platform. Both sides regretted that the government was not taking their demands seriously.
Imran Khan outright rejected the government’s claims when he said that he had not asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to involve the army to mediate between his party and the government.
“Nawaz Sharif was lying on the floor of the house. I have already told the army chief that I cannot trust the prime minister,” he thundered.
“I am sure that he will not fulfil his promises, if I leave D-Chowk.”
Mr Khan reiterated that the proposed judicial commission to investigate electoral rigging in the 2013 polls would be unable to probe the matter fully if Mr Sharif remained prime minister.
“Oh God, please give mister prime minister the courage to speak the truth in the future,” the PTI chief prayed.
He also told his supporters that he wanted to introduce an egalitarian justice system and revolutionise the health and education sectors so that the same system of education would prevail across the country.
“I will bring back the $200 billion that Pakistani politicians have stashed away in their foreign bank accounts and make the people pay tax, which will be used to ensure the prosperity of the people of Pakistan,” he said.
As Dr Qadri warmed up for his speech shortly after his last deadline expired, his camp was visited by a PTI delegation, led by Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who convinced the PAT chief to delay his next move for another 24 hours.
This was the first direct contact between the two parties since they together started the march on August 14 even though their moves looked well synchronised.
A day earlier, Dr Qadri had declared PAT and PTI “political cousins”.
After their meeting, Mr Qureshi also addressed the PAT crowd and reiterated his party’s request to postpone further action, which the protesters did not agree to. At this, Dr Qadri came out of his container and called upon his followers to assent to the PTI proposal.
He said PAT and PTI had a number of views in common and shared the same struggle, cautioning supporters that the government intended to create a split between the two.
The PTI delegation also included Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and MNA Asad Umar.
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2014