LOWER DIR: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Saturday launched a fresh salvo against “neutrals” —the term he uses for the military establishment — asking them why they did not defend the country against the “conspiracy” that was hatched to topple his government.

Addressing a big rally at Government Technical College Wari’s ground in Upper Dir, Mr Khan reiterated that fair and transparent elections were the “only way out” of the crises the country was facing.

“We ask the neutrals ... when your work is to defend the country and it was discovered that this cipher had come and [US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia] Donald Lu told our ambassador to oust Imran Khan ... when the National Security Committee said interference happened and issued a demarche to the US, was it not the work of those whose job it is to defend the country to stop this conspiracy instead of being neutral?” he said.

Mr Khan has claimed that a US-backed regime change was the reason his government was ousted. He has called for sacking Mr Lu.

He also came down hard on the coalition government led by PM Shehbaz Sharif, saying record inflation had proved that he is unable to govern.

“Why did you take part in the conspiracy if you were not capable of running the government,” the ousted premier asked, addressing PM Sharif.

However, Mr Khan again delayed the announcement of a final date for his party’s second round of march on Islamabad, saying they would wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on their petition seeking protection for holding their peaceful march. On May 26, when the PTI leader abruptly called off his long march, he had given an ultimatum to the government to dissolve the assemblies and announce a date for elections within six days, and warned that he would again hold a march if his demands were not met.

The former PM in his speech on Saturday said IMF had asked him too to increase the prices of petroleum products by Rs10 per litre but he had turned down their demand and decreased the prices by Rs10 instead

PTI workers carrying the national and party flags warmly welcomed their leader when he reached the venue of the rally by helicopter.

PTI lawmakers from the region, party workers and locals attended the rally which was also addressed by former defence minister Pervez Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, MNAs Sahibzada Sibghatullah, Bashir Khan, MPA Fazal Hakim and others.

Hailing the people of Dir for coming to the rally in a large number, Mr Khan asked the chief minister to construct a big stadium in town as the existing ground was too small to accommodate his supporters.

Mr Khan said they [PML-N] while claiming Shehbaz Sharif to be an efficient person mentioned his habit of getting up early in the morning as evidence to this claim. But, Mr Khan pointed out, the country’s economy had nosedived since this “imported” government took over and sarcastically asked whether “Showbaz” Sharif worked so hard to achieve this goal. He said his [Shehbaz’s] performance was only seen in advertisements not on the ground.

“We will never accept this corrupt and ‘imported’ government,” Mr Khan declared, adding the government was increasing prices of fuel and electricity on the IMF dictation. He said since he was not ready to accept slavery of America that’s why his government was toppled.

Mr Khan said his government had tried not to put additional burden on the common man in the shape of increased taxes and price hike but the present government was doing so to appease its American masters.

The former premier alleged that the USA, India and Israel were behind this coalition government as all of them were involved in the conspiracy against his government. He said there had been a tsunami of inflation in the country during this government and the rulers were unable to control the situation.

Referring to the recent Moody’s report, he said national economy had attained negativity during the past few weeks. While during the PTI government, he added, the economy was booming.

The PTI chief asked the party workers to be prepared for the general elections and get united against the rulers.

He also asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to remain impartial as people would never trust it if it showed any partiality.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2022

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