PTI chief springs his surprise, vows to quit assemblies
• Imran says will consult party, CMs on this plan soon; drops idea of taking long march to Islamabad
• Tells massive gathering polls no longer a priority as he is confident of victory, whenever they are held
• Claims three men — including the one who tried to shoot would-be assassin — involved in Wazirabad conspiracy
RAWALPINDI: Springing the much-touted ‘surprise’ on his political allies and opponents alike, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan announced on Saturday his party’s intention to disassociate itself from the “current corrupt political system” by quitting the assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
However, a final decision would only be taken after consultations with chief ministers in both provinces, while a final decision in this regard would be made after a meeting of the PTI’s parliamentary party, Mr Khan said.
The announcement came during a mammoth PTI public meeting in Rawalpindi, Mr Khan’s first public appearance since the attempt on his life in Wazirabad on Nov 3.
Addressing the well-attended rally — which was held at Rehmanabad after a long-drawn tussle with the administrations of Rawalpindi and Islamabad over the venue, duration and mode — the former prime minister declared that he would not ask his supporters to enter Islamabad as he did not want turmoil in the country.
“We will not be part of this system. We have decided to quit all the assemblies and get out of this corrupt system and in this regard, I will soon hold meetings with the parliamentary groups and consult my chief ministers,” said Mr Khan.
An injured Mr Khan, who came to the venue after his helicopter landed in the grounds of the nearby Arid Agriculture university, delivered his speech while seated on account of his wounds.
When the long march originally began from Lahore on Oct 28, Mr Khan had given a call to reach Islamabad for a possible sit-in and protest, but later the party changed its mind and decided to hold a public gathering in Rawalpindi.
Initially, the party wanted to hold a rally at Faizabad, the intersection that divides the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, but the party leadership later decided to change the venue on the insistence of the local administration.
Polls no longer a priority?
In an aggressive speech, Mr Khan made it clear that he wanted to avoid destruction, so he had decided against staging a sit-in, claiming that he had always staged peaceful protests and that he had also called off May 25 protest to avoid bloodshed.
He said that his party did not come to Rawalpindi for elections or politics, but fresh elections were the need of the hour.
He claimed that he did not care about elections, since they would be held in nine months time anyway and was confident his party would sweep them comfortably.
Mr Khan also lashed out at Punjab police for creating hurdles in his lodging an FIR over the attempt on his life, saying that this system, where the common man could not get justice, had to change.
He also claimed that three shooters were involved in the assassination attempt against him.
Two of those he claimed to have previously identified — including one man who fired at the PTI chief and another who supposedly fired from the front of the container — while a third person was meant to silence the assassin, so they could not divulge any details of the plot.
Mr Khan claimed that this third shooter had actually killed the man who lost his life in the attack, in an attempt to kill the would-be assassin.
He said that the country’s history will “bear witness” that he kept fighting till the last ball and last time for Pakistan. “I also want to say that those who did great increase in their assets and trampled the nation’s rights, history is also looking towards him and writing down what he did with the country.”
Imran has previously lashed out at a shadowy figure he calls “Dirty Harry” and accused of him being behind the alleged mistreatment of PTI supporters and journalists.
“Threats to journalists and their being beaten… and then what happened with Arshad Sharif. We never saw this in Pakistan… What was their fault? That they were bringing Imran Khan’s narrative to the media?” he said.
He claimed that the figure was also behind the harassment of the PTI’s social media workers and lawmakers Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill.
Mr Khan also alleged that the establishment and Election Commission of Pakistan had joined hands with those in the current government against him but the nation had sent a resounding message that they stood with the PTI.
He alleged that all those quarters saying his party had concocted a “false narrative” around the cipher received from the US and a subsequent regime change conspiracy to remove his government, were actually part of the conspiracy itself.
He admitted that he had failed at one thing during his three-and-a-half- years in government: holding the powerful to account.
He lamented that the National Accountability Bureau and other institutions were not truly under his control and took their orders from somewhere else.
“The ones who had control never gave an order [to proceed with investigations]. Instead of putting them (criminals) in jails, they were making deals.”
He said that those “who had power” did not consider corruption wrong.
Mr Khan then lashed out at the Sharif and Zardari families, accusing them of making decisions and key appointments that favoured them, instead of taking decisions in the national interest.
He said that the nation stands at a “defining point” and a “crossroads”, with two paths before it.
The PTI chief also disclosed that it would take around three more months for his leg to heal.
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2022