• Says he’s made a video naming ‘conspirators who betrayed country’
• PTI moves public meeting from church land after clashes with police, arrest of workers
• Minister denies govt involved in PTI workers’ arrest
NAROWAL: Former premier Imran Khan has alleged that a conspiracy is being hatched abroad to kill him and that he has recorded a video wherein he has named the alleged conspirators.
The PTI chairman expressed these views while addressing a public meeting at VIP Factory Ground in Sialkot. He said all those who betrayed the country will be exposed, claiming the government was trying to create chaos in the country.
“A few days ago, I recorded a video in which I mentioned the names of those who betrayed the country,” he said.
He called PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and his party members cowards, claiming when the PTI was in power, it never stopped any public meeting. He added Nawaz had always played with the “umpires”, and forgot about his illness as soon as he went to London.
“The nation has come out today to achieve true freedom. I tried my best to punish the corrupt in my four years in power, but they are part of a mafia.” Mr Khan then told the party supporters to wage a “jihad” against the rulers.
“Rule of law must be established in the country.” Addressing the judiciary, he said there were corruption cases of Rs24 billion against PM Sharif and his sons Hamza and Suleman, so “why aren’t the courts hearing them? I was so alarmed when the courts opened their doors for me at midnight”.
At the end, Mr Khan renewed his call for a long march on Islamabad after May 20 and asked the masses to come out in droves for the “war of independence”.
Clashes, arrests over venue
Earlier in the day, the PTI had to move the venue for its public gathering to another location after police cracked down on its workers, arrested and subsequently released 40 of them, including leader Usman Dar, for attempting to hold the event on a church land following the Christian community’s refusal to grant permission.
The Sialkot district administration barred the PTI from holding the meeting at CTI ground adjacent to a church in view of the Lahore High Court’s orders and protests by the Christian community. After the party leadership, including Dar, rejected the administration’s request to hold the meeting at another venue a heavy police contingent, led by Sialkot DPO Muhammad Hassan Iqbal, entered the CTI ground and attempted to push back the hundreds of PTI workers, resorting to baton-charge and tear-gas shelling.
Later, 40 PTI workers, including Usman Dar, Omar Dar, Hafiz Hamid, Raza Ali and Asjad Malhi, were arrested and shifted to Laisar Kalan police station in Narowal district. They were all released six hours later.
In a video uploaded on social media from inside the prisoners van, Mr Dar claimed that “under the leadership of Imran Khan we will end the puppet and imported government of America forever”.
Meanwhile, the PTI leadership relented and decided to hold their public gathering at VIP Cricket Ground.
In a press conference in Sialkot, central party leaders Shafqat Mahmood, Ejaz Chaudhry and Firdous Ashiq Awan condemned the tear-gas shelling on their workers and claimed the “imported government” had snatched the constitutional rights of the people at the behest of federal minister Khawaja Asif, who also belongs to the city.
Mr Mahmood said the only solution to the country’s crises was fresh polls. He warned the government against retaliatory actions and announced to hold their public gathering at VIP Cricket Ground.
Govt rejects allegations
Meanwhile, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said former premier Imran Khan was desperate to create a situation where he could claim his public meetings were being obstructed by the government.
“Neither the federal government, nor the Punjab government or Rana Sanaullah had anything to do with this. But the protest by the local Christian community, who objected to the use of their land for political purposes, led to the police’s intervention,” she remarked.
Ikram Junaidi from Islamabad adds: Throughout the day, former PTI ministers kept blaming the Punjab and federal governments for trying to create a law and order situation.
Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari accused ministers Rana Sanaullah and Khawaja Asif of resorting to violence against PTI workers for attending the party’s public gatherings. She called the arrests of workers “state terrorism”. “I want to ask the neutrals and ISPR if it is part of the agenda of regime change,” stated Ms Mazari.
Another former minister, Asad Umar, said the government seemed panicked. He also criticised the economic policies of the incumbent leadership and claimed it will not be able to maintain the growth rate achieved during the PTI govt.
PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his party will never stop its peaceful protests. He claimed the PTI had sought approval of the district administration for the public meeting and was making security arrangements when at the eleventh hour the authorities decided not to allow the event.
“This can be part of the ‘London plan’. I urge the chief secretary and the inspector general of police to behave responsibly,” he maintained.
On the other hand, a PTI statement claimed the government had decided to arrest party workers from May 17 to stop them from participating in the march on Islamabad.
Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2022