ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has called on party workers to lay siege to Islamabad on Oct 30, telling them to stay put until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns or presents himself for accountability in the backdrop of the Panama Papers leaks.
The charged PTI chief also took the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership to task for going soft on the government, returning to his earlier stance that both “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari are not only in cahoots but are also providing cover to each other’s corrupt practices”.
In fact, Mr Khan criticised the PPP leadership responsible for its slow reaction to the Panamagate scandal, saying the party had dragged its feet on the formulation of terms of reference (ToR) for a proposed inquiry commission.
Sounding more like his 2014-self, Mr Khan said Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah himself faced corruption charges and was on Nawaz Sharif’s payroll.
“I am of the firm belief that, come what may, Zardari will never go after Nawaz Sharif for corruption. In fact, both have an agreement to protect each other,” said the PTI chairman.
Mr Khan even went as far as to suggest that the PPP leadership should follow the MQM’s minus-one formula and get rid of Mr Zardari, who had only brought a bad name to the party by committing widespread corruption. “Why has Mr Zardari fled the country; why is he not coming back?” he asked, rhetorically.
Talking about his party’s decision to besiege the capital city, the PTI leader said that if the prime minister didn’t meet his party’s demands, he wouldn’t let PM Sharif continue running the government. “A detailed modus operandi will be released afterwards.”
Flanked by the entire PTI leadership, Mr Khan said that with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and PPP joining hands to maintain the status quo, “I am left with no option but to go for a solo flight against their collective corruption.”
The PPP, he said, had already crash-landed in the National Assembly by playing friendly opposition. However, he praised Aitzaz Ahsan for genuinely striving against the Sharifs’ corruption and demanding their accountability.
Mr Khan again criticised government institutions — such as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) — for their silence on the Panama Papers leaks, and hoped that the Supreme Court would do justice to petitions filed by his party and others.
When asked why he was coming back to Islamabad, the PTI leader responded: “Because the government is here.”
In the same breath, Mr Khan said that he knew the people of the twin cities would have to face inconvenience again, but “you have to face it if you want our future generations to live honourable lives.”
On tensions between Indian and Pakistan, Mr Khan said that these were largely due to the government’s failure on the diplomatic front, which boiled down to the lacklustre leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Had the prime minister provided genuine leadership and not stayed busy looting the country and enjoying his stay in his palatial houses abroad, India could have not isolated our country,” he said, adding that when Narendra Modi was busy isolating Pakistan, PM Sharif had gone on a shopping spree in London.
Defending his decision to stay away from the ongoing joint sitting of parliament, Mr Khan referred to how the opposition and treasury benches had sparred, accusing each other of corruption. “Is this the collective message they want to send the outside world?” asked the PTI leader.
Earlier, when Mr Khan arrived to chair a party meeting at a local hotel, he was seen on video congratulating other party leaders over the trade of barbs by PPP and PML-N members in parliament.
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2016