MANSEHRA: Continuing his onslaught on rivals who seem determined to kick him out of power through a no-trust vote, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said if he pardoned the former rulers in the cases of kickbacks and bribery they were facing, it would be tantamount to treachery
“They (opposition leaders) have been pressurising and blackmailing me to clear them of corruption charges. However, if I give them a clean chit, as Pervez Musharraf did, then I would be committing sedition,” Mr Khan declared while speaking to a cheering crowd here at Thakra Stadium.
Referring to PTI lawmakers who had openly come out against him, PM Khan said: “The horse-trading in the federal capital is at its peak as Rs250 million and even more is being offered to each MNA for my character assassination, but I cannot find words to admire the loyalty of lawmakers like Salah Mohammad Khan who didn’t sell his conscience. I am sure he would not have thought of going against me even if he was offered Rs500 million,” Mr Khan said.
The prime minister stayed at the rostrum for over 40 minutes, mostly talking about his government’s performance, their mega-development projects and key achievements.
In an apparent reference to Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, PM Khan said: “Three cowards have been cursing me and trying to intimidate me, but I want to make it clear that they would never succeed in their evil mission.”
PM Khan predicted that Sharif family’s role in Pakistan’s politics had come to an end forever and now they could only get themselves enrolled in British politics.
“If this family would indulge in British politics, the country would go bankrupt because of their corruption and the government would soon be compelled to seek loans from the international community to run its affairs,” he said.
Mr Khan recalled that because of his bold narrative at the UN General Assembly the latter had declared March 15 as the international day to mark Islamophobia.
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman has been using Islam as a stunt for his political and personal gains but he couldn’t make any such achievement which could have helped bring an end to blasphemy being committed in the garb of freedom of speech,” Mr Khan said.
He said his politics was for the dignity and respect of the country and he would prefer to maintain relations with the US and other western countries based on mutual respect and equality but would never accept their hegemony.
“I would extend a hand of friendship to the Indian government if it revokes its constitutional article 370 which ended Kashmir’s independent status on August 15, 2019,” Mr Khan said.
The prime minister invited the people of Mansehra to attend what he called an historic rally in Islamabad on March 27.
Poll code violations
In a related development, the Election Commission of Pakistan served a notice on Prime Minister Khan for using state resources in the campaign of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidates contesting the second phase of local bodies elections and violating the code of conduct by addressing a rally in Mansehra.
The notice was served by Mansehra District Monitoring Officer Hayatullah Jan through secretary to the PM. The DMO also served similar notices on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Speaker KP Assembly Mushtaq Ghani and MNA Saleh Mohammad Khan Swati.
It may be recalled that the PM had been advised through a letter issued on March 21, not to violate any provision of the code of conduct. The fresh notice to PM Khan follows the imposition of a fine of Rs50,000 on him and other public office holders by the ECP Peshawar on Thursday for addressing a rally in Malakand on March 20. Earlier, Prime Minister Khan was fined Rs50,000 each by the respective DMOs for addressing public meetings in Lower Dir and Swat.
Similarly, DMO Malakand Zia Ur Rehman served a second notice on Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for violating the code of conduct framed for the second phase of local bodies election in the province. The first such notice was served on March 23 after he addressed a rally in Malakand. Meanwhile, DMO Kolai-Palas district Wajid Ali imposed Rs20,000 fine on the PTI candidate for tehsil council Palas Mohammad Akram for violating the code of conduct.
Mohammad Ashfaq in Peshawar also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2022