Imran irked by courts turning ‘blind eye’ to PTI workers’ harassment

Published July 6, 2022
PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks in a video message from Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks in a video message from Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Decrying the “harassment” of Pakis­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) supporters, former prime minister Imran Khan continued his criticism of judges on Tuesday, questioning the silence of the country’s judiciary on the matter and asking whether fundamental rights, granted by the Constitution to the citizens of Pakistan, had been “suspended” under what he called a “fascist regime”.

“I want to ask a question from my nation… my judiciary… whether fundamental rights have been suspended in Pakistan. Before answering, please do clarify if martial law has been imposed. Does the Constitution permit such transgressions?” the former premier asked during an address via social media platforms.

“On May 25, we took to streets for a peaceful protest and we have a history of nonviolent protests … [but] on 25th police raided houses and harassed women and children,” Mr Khan said, recalling the crackdown on PTI workers in Punjab ahead of his recent long march on Islamabad.

He also spoke about the threatening calls received by pro-PTI journalists from “unknown numbers”, which had forced several individuals to flee Pakistan.

‘Will spill the beans’

During the address, Imran Khan warned that he would be forced to spill the beans and “expose” every character involved in the alleged conspiracy against him if attempts were made to corner him through such intimidation tactics.

The ousted premier was referring to the harassment of pro-party journalists, such as Sabir Shakir, Imran Riaz Khan, and Sami Ibrahim among others, the registration of cases against himself and other party leaders, as well as the release of audio tapes to malign the former ruling party.

He said he was aware of the central characters that were part of the alleged conspiracy against his government, but he did not name them for the sake of the national interest. “I am well aware of the conspirators and abettors… but I just want to inform the nation that I remained silent because I did not want to inflict any harm on my country,” the PTI chairman added.

In his remarks, Mr Khan once again referred to a “secret tape” where he claims to have named “each and every character and their role in the ouster of the PTI government”. According to the PTI chairman, if the harassment meted out to him and his party leadership did not stop, he would have no option to reveal the details of the alleged conspiracy.

At the outset, Mr Khan also compared himself with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, saying that both their governments were ousted at the behest of the United States.

The US wanted Pakistan to pursue “the same old foreign policy where they would make a single phone call” and order Pakistan to make decisions in Washington’s favour, Mr Khan said as he referred to Pakistan’s decision to join the ‘war on terror’.

By-polls in Punjab

The PTI chief also referred to the upcoming by-polls in Punjab and reiterated his allegation that state machinery was being used to rig the elections in the province, slated to be held on July 17.

He also questioned the delay in the adjudication of a case against Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and said that courts “opened at night” to decide a case against the PTI, whereas “despite a passage of two months” a decision on the petitions challenging the legitimacy of the current Punjab CM was still pending.

Meeting with British envoy

Separately, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner called on Mr Khan at his residence in Banigala. During the meeting, the former PM said that developed countries should take steps to curb the illegal outflow of wealth from poor countries.

Mr Khan said that it was high time rich countries took “special measures” against money laundering that promoted global inequality and migration.

Imran Khan said that migration – fuelled by money laundering – from poor countries to rich countries also posed challenges to the developed world. He said that the governments should take steps to effectively curb money laundering globally and added that the British government could play a key role in this regard.

SC intervention sought

Meanwhile, PTI Central Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry sought the intervention of the Supreme Court over a relief package announced by CM Hamza Shehbaz ahead of the by-elections in Punjab in a bid to “influence” the outcome in the favour of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

In a letter to the apex court, Mr Chaudhry claimed that the relief package violated the court orders and the election code of conduct as it attempted to “influence” the upcoming by-polls.

According to Mr Chaudhry, the top court had devised a “formula” to save Punjab from “constitutional complications” and ensure transparent by-elections. He claimed that Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz was allowed to use regulatory powers till July 22 and added that the CM had assured the court that the provincial government would not influence the elections.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2022

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