PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday announced that his party's long march towards Islamabad for the country's "haqeeqi azadi" would commence from Lahore's Liberty Chowk on October 28, Friday.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, flanked by the party's top leadership, the former prime minister said the march will begin from the Liberty Chowk at 11am and he will lead it himself.
"This is our march for haqeeqi azaadi and it has no timeframe. We will reach Islamabad from the GT Road and the nation will come to Islamabad from across Pakistan.
"I am predicting this will be the biggest sea of people in the history of the country," Imran claimed.
Going on, he clarified that the long march was "not politics" but a "war for the future of Pakistan.
"This is something way beyond politics, it is a war for freedom from these thieves that have been imposed over us. This jihad will decide where the country will go."
Elaborating on the demands of the march, the former premier said that he only wanted one thing: "The decision of who will head the country belongs to the public."
"We want that the people make the decision. Today, I am appealing to the entire nation that you will have to decide [...] do we want to go on this way of becoming a free country or serve these thieves."
In response to a question, he said that the protest would be peaceful. "We are not going to break the law or go into the Red Zone. Whatever will happen in Islamabad, it will be according to what the courts have permitted us.
"We have given instructions to everyone to remain peaceful and we will just show where the nation stands."
At the outset of the press conference, the PTI chief said he had planned the march earlier. "We held a peaceful protest on May 25 but they inflicted violence on us. And if I had not called it off then the next day there really would've been discord and blood in the country," he said.
"Hence, to save my country and prevent chaos, I called it off," he added.
Imran went on to say that he wanted to clarify the purpose of the march because he was told that he was being irresponsible as the country was going through a tough time.
"I want to remind the nation that when we came to power in 2018, Pakistan was bankrupt and facing the biggest foreign deficit in history. Our reserves were around $9 billion, our trade deficit was three times more," he said, giving an overview of his government's economic performance.
Imran recalled that his government was toppled through a foreign conspiracy and thieves were imposed over the country. "And then, when we won the July by-elections, there was a rain of cases lodged against us. Some 24 FIRs (first information reports) were registered against me. Cases were made against all our top leadership."
'Arshad Sharif was threatened to retract from his stance'
The PTI chief said that journalists across Pakistan were facing the worst form of oppression today.
"The kind of injustices and restrictions they have imposed on the media, there is no example of it in any other democracy.
"But the most painful for the journalist community is what they did with Arshad Sharif. I haven't seen an example like this in Pakistan," he said.
Talking about Sharif at the press conference in Lahore, the PTI chief said that everyone knew the journalist never compromised his conscience. "Everyone knows his family had two martyrs [...] he was threatened to retract from his stance.
"Can there be any worse form of oppression compared to Arshad Sharif's martyrdom? He went to Kenya because they knew what they were about to do," he claimed, adding that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab governments would be building a monument to honour the slain journalist.
'Always open for backdoor channels'
In response to a question, Imran said that political parties always solved problems through talks and that "doors are always open for backdoor channels".
However, at the same time, the PTI chief contended that the government was against fresh elections because they feared that "despite their pet election commissioner" they won't be able to win. "This is why they have now gone to the other side — disqualification."
He said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had disqualified him in a "totally illegal and unconstitutional way" because "this match is not capable enough to be played now".
"This is why they don't want elections and now we have decided to go towards the long march," Imran added.