IN this screengrab, PTI chief Imran Khan can be seen leading his followers in an oath-taking ceremony in Peshawar on Tuesday.
IN this screengrab, PTI chief Imran Khan can be seen leading his followers in an oath-taking ceremony in Peshawar on Tuesday.

PESHAWAR: Former prime minister Imran Khan on Tuesday assigned Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers — past and present — the task of bringing thousands of people each to the ‘Haqeeqi Azadi March’ towards Islamabad which, in his words, could be announced at any time.

Sources told Dawn that the former MNAs should bring at least 4,000; MPAs are expected to bring along 2,000 supporters, while village and neighbourhood council chiefs are being asked to bring 100 persons each along with them for the march on the federal capital.

Ministers and cabinet members would coordinate the long march preparations with Chief Minister Mahmood Khan while party office-bearers would report to the party’s provincial president, Pervez Khattak.

The party’s district head would report on the expected number of long march participants to the divisional head of the party, while all divisional heads would provide details about the expected number of participants to the party’s provincial head, who would then convey the details to the central organisation.

Shah Farman takes oath of allegiance from party members ahead of protest

Separately, the PTI chief also took oaths from party lawmakers, office-bearers, and members to support the ‘real freedom’ march despite all odds. “We will consider the party’s movement for real independence as a jihad, and will render all kinds of sacrifices for the cause…we will uphold the constitution and will protect it,” they repeated after former KP governor Shah Farman who read out the oath in the presence of Imran Khan.

But when videos and pictures from the ceremony were shared on social media, many saw similarities between the participants’ raised hands and the infamous salute, preferred by the forces of Nazi Germany. The 30-second raised hand salute was led by Mr Khan, and also imitated by Ali Amin Gandapur and others on the stage. Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, however, merely held up his right hand as if swearing an oath in court.

Furthermore, Imran Khan also held meetings with parliamentarians, office-bearers, Insaf lawyers’ forum, Insaf doctors’ forum, and regional heads of the party and assigned different tasks to make the much-hyped long march successful.

The PTI chairman instructed the Insaf lawyers forum that they would extend legal assistance to the party workers in case of police action or registration of FIRs against them. Similarly, the Insaf doctors’ forum would give medical aid to the workers during the march.

During the meetings, the party leadership assigned different tasks to the party’s organisations regarding transport, procurement of party flags, banners, and placards in addition to other materials required for the long march.

Addressing party meetings earlier in the day, Imran Khan urged the PTI workers to get ready as he would give a call for the long march soon. According to a statement issued here, the PTI chief said that today was the turning point for the Pakistani nation and the nation would have to come out for the sake of their future. “Today, thieves have been imposed on the country, who are looting the nation for the last 30 years,” he said.

Imran Khan said that he has no personal enmity with anyone rather he was striving for the future of this country. He alleged that the “imported” government had appointed their own man as the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau so that they could have verdicts of their choice. “Now, all cases of corruption and theft are being withdrawn, which is a joke with the nation,” he said.

Imran Khan further said that the incumbent government was “instituting fabricated cases” against him so that they could clear the way for corruption. “A few families are plundering the national resources and wealth [of the country] mercilessly,” he said and added that the PDM ousted the PTI government on the pretext of price hike, but now they opened the floodgates of inflation. “They (the PDM) have no qualms about the miseries of the citizens as they have come [to power] to conceal their own theft,” he claimed.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2022

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