PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday called on the “neutrals” — the term he uses for the military establishment — to stand with the nation, justice and Pakistan, instead of "thieves", referring to government leaders.
The PTI chief was addressing a party rally in Islamabad's F-9 park (Fatima Jinnah Park) to express solidarity with embattled party leader Shahbaz Gill and record a protest against the government.
"I'm asking and want to say to the neutrals [that] this is a matter of the country. It's very important for you to stand with the nation, justice and Pakistan and not these thieves (government leaders)," Imran said to the crowd.
Imran said he wanted to ask the neutrals if they were "really neutral".
He alleged that whenever police officials were questioned about current injustice, they said they were not at fault and had received "orders from behind".
"When I asked Islamabad police that 'tell me what did you do [to Shahbaz Gill]', I got an answer that 'we did nothing, we got a boot from behind [to follow orders]'."
Similarly, Imran alleged that when the time had come to pursue action and register cases against Lahore's deputy inspector general (DIG) of police and capital city police officer for their treatment of PTI workers on May 25, "so our people there [in the Punjab government] got afraid and said: 'We got telephone [calls] from there to not touch them.'"
PTI to file cases against Islamabad IG, DIG
Imran started his address by claiming that "terror is being spread among the people to make them slaves," adding that what happened with Gill wasn't because of what he said since coalition leaders in the government had "said much more than that to really deal damage to the army".
Imran alleged that Gill was "caught and tortured" to send a message and frighten the people that if he could be broken mentally then anyone could.
The former prime minister said it was a "decisive" and "very important" time for the nation, adding that if the nation cowed before "this idol of fear" then it would mean slavery.
Imran said he had summoned the rally at a 24-hour notice to highlight how Gill was being treated and also the restrictions being imposed on ARY.
"They shut down the most popular channel ARY. Not because it did any mistake, they closed it because it was showing the truth and delivering my message and the people's message to the public.
"And then other channels were threatened that if you will also be closed down and made to suffer losses if you don't fall in line," the PTI chairman claimed.
Criticising the treatment meted out to Gill, Imran said he was "tortured ... as if a big traitor to the country was caught". Addressing Islamabad's inspector general of police and DIG, he said: "We won't spare you, we will file cases against you."
He also called out Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry, who on Wednesday had approved Gill's two-day physical remand at the request of the capital police, and said she too should prepare herself, adding that action would also be pursued against her and all three should be "ashamed".
Imran also called out the lack of any action against Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman or Defence Minister Khawaja Asif for their past comments.
He said that if a case could be registered against Gill, then the PTI was also about to file cases against "everyone", including PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, Rehman and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
"What they did with Gill, they mocked the rule of law and tore it to shreds."
Imran said the party was going to approach the Supreme Court and said the nation was looking towards it to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution.
Addressing the topic of tomorrow's rally in Rawalpindi, he said he was giving a roadmap to the nation and would be "continuously in Pakistan's streets with the nation".
He said he would prepare everyone to not give up in the face of fear.
The PTI chairman earlier reached F-9 park after leading the rally himself from Zero Point.
The party also shared footage and pictures from rallies being taken out in other cities such as Lahore's Liberty Chowk and Faisalabad.
PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan said it would be a peaceful protest against the treatment of Gill by the authorities as well as the restrictions placed on ARY's broadcast, adding that Imran's speech will be shown at other rallies across the country.
The party's official Twitter account also shared footage of supporters arriving for the rally.
Gill was arrested on August 9 in connection with a case registered against him for allegedly inciting mutiny among the armed forces. Footage broadcast on television a day ago showed he was brought to court in a wheelchair where he appeared to be audibly wheezing and was begging officials to give him his mask.
The Islamabad district and sessions court had directed capital police to shift Gill to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences again for another medical examination.
Imran had gone there to inquire about the detained Gill's health but was unable to do so as the police reportedly stopped him. After failing to meet Gill, the PTI chief stopped to speak briefly with reporters. Clad in black, he had announced that he would take out a rally in Islamabad on Saturday evening in support of the incarcerated party leader and urged people to turn out in large numbers.
Imran had said the rally would also be organised at all divisional headquarters of the party across the country.
However, the Islamabad administration had said the PTI would not be allowed to hold its rally in the federal capital and added that Section 144 was in force in the city. The PTI, however, refused to comply with the directives and party leader Fawad Chaudhry said the rally will proceed as planned.
Earlier today while addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid said the Section 144 imposed in Islamabad to prevent the rally would be broken apart into "144 pieces" if Imran ordered so.