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PESHAWAR/NOWSHERA: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan launched an “accountability movement” against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his government from Peshawar on Sunday, pulling the youth from all parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas to the provincial capital.

Sweltering heat and humidity were not enough to deter the crowds from showing up at the rally.

“Come rain or scorching heat, I will stand by your side in this struggle against corruption,” said Imran Khan after kicking off the march mid-afternoon.

Posters and banners inscribed with slogans like “Panama march’ and “Accountability march” were visible all around the G.T. Road in Peshawar and the venue was bursting with slogans and music.

“The match is just about to begin. If you (Nawaz Sharif) are not ready for accountability, the nation will force you to do so,” Imran Khan thundered amid cheers and slogans of his supporters.

PTI leaders Jehangir Tareen, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak stood by Imran Khan’s side on a container.

The rally, described by the PTI chief as “Ehtesab (accountability) march”, left Peshawar for Attock via the Northern Bypass to the accompaniment of the signature youthful ambiance of the party. It was reminiscent of the PTI’s dharna in Islamabad back in August 2014. The Jamaat-i-Islami and the Qaumi Watan Party, PTI’s allies, chose to stay away.


PTI leader kicks off ‘accountability movement’ against Sharif


The 2014 sit-in ended after terrorists massacred 150 people, mostly schoolchildren, in Peshawar’s Army Public School on Dec 16 that year.

“Today I am starting a movement that will end only when Nawaz Sharif is forced to present himself for accountability,” Imran Khan declared, setting off thunderous slogans of “Go Nawaz Go”.

The PTI leader thanked the crowd with a wave of his hand.

“We voted for Imran Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and we are with him because we want Nawaz Sharif to face accountability on allegations of corruption,” said Mehtaab, who took part in the rally.

While there were some enthusiasts who just wanted to be a part of the festive atmosphere, a majority were undoubtedly PTI’s staunch supporters.

“We want PTI to bring about a revolution that would eliminate terrorism. We want a society where everyone has a job and there is no corruption,” said Ilyas, from Chughulpura, pouring out a wish-list of change as imagined by him.

Imran Khan said he had launched the movement to pressure Nawaz Sharif into “coming clean before parliament” and “explain why he had been lying” about his assets.

Imran Khan said his party would persevere with its movement unless the prime minister presented himself before the National Accountability Bureau.

The cricketer turned politician, without mincing words, accused the bureau of “protecting Nawaz Sharif and his relative, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar”, instead of investigating allegations against them. He called upon every Pakistani to “make this movement your own and become a part of it”.

He said it was a shame that the country had two sets of laws — one for the mighty and another for the weak. “We shall stop at nothing. We will not rest till we bring Mr Sharif and his loyalists to court for accountability.

“Whether it is money laundering, tax evasion or corruption, Nawaz Sharif considers himself above the law,” Imran Khan said, expressing confidence that the day was not far off when the PML-N chief would face justice.

The PTI rally, which left Peshawar at 1pm, reached Nowshera, just 36 kilometres away, at 11pm.

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and Jehangir Tareen also addressed gatherings along the way.

In Pabbi an unruly mob, attacked Dawn TV’s DSNG vehicle, smashing its front screen and windowpanes. However, the crew remained unhurt.

Meanwhile, a small group of traders set up a camp opposite the venue of PTI rally at Shobra chowk, Nowshera, to register their protest against the Cantonment Board’s decision to evict them from their plots and shops.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2016