LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday formally launched its by-election campaign in Punjab with party chairman Imran Khan making whirlwind visits to four constituencies of Lahore to motivate workers to teach ‘turncoats’ a lesson with a humiliating defeat.
The PTI has pitched four party diehards against dissidents (now PML-N candidates), who ditched the party at a crucial juncture of re-election of Punjab chief minister after Usman Buzdar resigned as chief minister.
In his speeches at each Lahore constituency, Mr Khan said these by-elections were not just politics but a “jihad to win real independence” for Pakistan and in the same breath vowed that he would bring back Rs1,100 billion laundered abroad by the Sharifs who were “forgiven under the NRO-2 through the NAB amendment”.
He said the Rs1,100 billion money laundering allegations against PM Shehbaz Sharif and his son CM Hamza Shehbaz were open and shut cases but they were imposed on the nation through a conspiracy.
Vows to bring back laundered money from abroad
Earlier, he said, the Sharif family had got NRO-1 from former president Gen Musharraf and fled to Saudi Arabia to come back again to plunder the country for 10 more years.
“The entire Sharif family wants to return again for another round of loot and plunder,” he stated.
Imran Khan asked the youth and women to go door to door, bring people out of their homes on the polling day and ensure that the PML-N should not rig the vote with the help of ‘umpires’.
“The PTI needs to defeat all the turncoats who are actually banking on umpires’ help,” he asserted and added that the turncoats had not only violated the Constitution and law but also committed treachery against democracy and voters, who voted them in the 2018 general elections.
He said the nation would never forgive the ‘regime change conspirators’ as they had insulted the country.
He said the whole nation was looking at the 20 by-elections in Punjab, adding that the PTI’s win through massive public support would help topple the fake government of Hamza Shehbaz, regain power and announce fresh general elections.
Mr Khan said the ‘fake’ PML-N government had used state power against the PTI leaders and workers holding peaceful protest march on Islamabad. “The incumbent government wants to terrorise masses so that they should not come out of their homes on the polling day, allowing it to maneuver election results with the help of umpires,” he added.
The PTI chairman also strongly criticized the Election Commission of Pakistan for its `leanings’ towards the PML-N and asked his workers to stay vigilant at polling stations on July 17.
He said the PTI had put the country’s economy on the path to progress and the recent Economic Survey of Pakistan was witness to the fact that every sector, including industries, were booming. “Now the economy is noose diving and inflation sky-rocketing,” he observed.
The dissidents and the PTI diehards contesting by-election from the four constituencies include former PTI senior leader Abdul Aleem Khan, who became MPA from PP-158 (Lahore-XV), had voted for PML-N’s chief minister candidate Hamza Shehbaz and was subsequently de-seated by the Election Commission of Pakistan. Aleem Khan, however, did not find it appropriate to contest a by-election. In this constituency, the PML-N has launched Rana Ahsan against PTI’s Mian Muhammad Akram Usman.
In PP-167 (Lahore-XXIV), the PTI has fielded Shabbir Ahmad against Nazir Ahmad Chohan now contesting on the PML-N ticket. Nazir Chohan had remained critical of the Usman Buzdar government and joined the Jahangir Tareen group.
Similarly, PTI’s Muhammad Nawaz Awan faces PML-N’s Malik Asad Ali in PP-168 (Lahore-XXV).
In PP-170 (Lahore-XXVI), the PTI has pitched Malik Zaheer Abbas Khokhar against Muhammad Amin Zulqernain, now fielded by the PML-N. Mr Khokhar had lost the 2018 general election to PML-N when he ran for NA-134 (Lahore-XII).
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2022