LAHORE: Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Friday delayed the much-hyped announcement of a date for his party’s long march on Islamabad to pressurise the coalition government to announce early elections in the country.

He was addressing a massive gathering held at Qila Kuhna Qasim Bagh Stadium in Multan.

Khan said a date for the march would be decided on Sunday during the PTI’s core committee meeting in Peshawar, and it would be held any day between May 25 and 29.

Citing the reasons for delaying the announcement, Mr Khan said the situation had changed in view of the de-seating of his party’s 25 defectors by the election commission.

In his address, he also criticised the current government’s inability to govern, saying the so-called

Says govt asking NSC to decide about fuel prices so it could later blame inflation on army

experienced parties only had the experience of looting the country’s resources. He said the current administration was not doing anything to uplift the dwindling economy, but asking the National Security Committee to take the decision of increasing the prices of petrol and diesel.

“The government is doing this so it can blame the army for the rising prices,” he remarked.

The former PM claimed his government had collected record tax and there was 75 per cent increase in IT exports during his tenure, and that Pakistan’s employment rate was the highest in the sub-continent. He cautioned that a wave of inflation was looming because when the rupee depreciates “it has an impact on every item of daily use”.

He said if the coalition government stayed in power till completion of the assembly’s tenure, it would turn Pakistan into Sri Lanka. “I am demanding early elections and dissolution of assemblies to save the country from bankruptcy.”

Taking a jibe at PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, Khan questioned how a coward could be a leader. “We allowed Nawaz to travel abroad for treatment and as soon as he boarded the plane we saw he appeared completely healthy, climbed up the stairs as if he was training for the Olympics,” the PTI chairman remarked.

Mr Khan thanked the women and youth for attending the rally and said no revolution could be successful without the participation of these two segments of society. He said Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) helped Muslims break the shackles of fear, which helped them rule the world, adding no nation could become great without doing so.

The former premier cited an example of Edmund Hillary that when he decided to climb Mount Everest he first conquered his fear. The “corrupt rulers imposed on the country” have instilled this fear in the nation that until “America’s boots are polished” we cannot progress, he added.

Unfortunately, the country is ruled by those who bowed down before the US and their actions brought disrepute to the country. This was the reason, he said, a conspiracy had been hatched to oust him from the prime minister’s office by those who “looted” the country for 30 years.

Mr Khan said the opposition during his government tried to conspire against him so they could force him to forgive their corruption cases and allow them relief. “If I would have forgiven their cases it would have meant I did not come to power for an ideology or to run a movement for justice. It would have meant I wanted to do politics for a seat just like Gen Musharraf forgave them to save his seat,” he said.

Earlier in his address, the PTI chairman also passed a sexist remark for PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, saying one of her recent speeches was shared with him where she was repeatedly taking his name.

“I want to tell her not to mention my name so passionately, her husband will get upset.”

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2022

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