PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday announced that his governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will dissolve their assemblies on December 23 to pave the way for fresh elections.
Imran made the announcement in a video address with Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan by his side.
Imran thanked the two provincial chiefs for their cooperation with his party and said that he had consulted PTI’s lawyers about the move, adding that the Constitution did not allow elections to be delayed beyond 90 days of an assembly’s dissolution.
Last month, Imran said that his party would disassociate itself from the “current corrupt political system” by quitting the two provincial assemblies.
The decision to dissolve assemblies was met with great objection from PML-N and PPP leaders — the main forces of the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement government. Later, the PML-N had announced that it was ready to contest elections in case the PTI continued with its decision to dissolve the two assemblies.
Elaborating on the PTI’s plan of action after dissolving the assemblies, Imran said: “Then we will prepare for elections after that and our around 130 seats in the National Assembly, we will go to the NA speaker and demand him to accept our resignations instead of picking a few.”
Imran told the nation to refrain from being disappointed, saying it was akin to “running away from our duty to society”. He said a “lesson should be taught through elections” to the government and deal it “such a defeat that the names of these thieves are wiped out forever”.
He said the country would “stand up” when “tough decisions” would be taken, not about increases in prices, but, “restructuring institutions and establishing justice in the country”.
Imran said a government with a fresh mandate and the nation’s support behind it would be able to raise its stature.
At the outset of his address, Imran said the country needed “fresh and fair elections as “we fear the country is drowning.”
Imran started his address by bemoaning the current economic situation of the country and contrasted that with his government’s performance.
He lamented the brain drain ongoing in the country, saying that skilled people and professionals were leaving the country in droves.
“My question today is, who was responsible for this regime change?” he said, referring to his government’s ouster via a no-confidence motion earlier this year.
Imran said unemployment and inflation were on the rise and foreign confidence in the country had eroded, leading to investments drying up.
“Our loans are piling up. There was only one way to solve this which we did: to increase the country’s wealth. They (the government) don’t have a plan.”
Imran concerned that govt may try to delay elections even beyond Oct
Imran said free and fair elections were the only solution to the country’s problems and said the government was “afraid” of new elections due to the fear of losing.
He expressed concern that the government might not hold general elections even in October 2023.
The PTI chairman once again raised the question of who was actually responsible for the current affairs of the country. “Only one man is responsible: General (R) [Qamar Javed] Bajwa. I didn’t speak out against him because he was the army chief,” Imran added.
“We want our army to be strong so we kept quiet and kept looking at how the conspiracy happened.”
He said the former army chief had “decided to remove us (PTI government)”.
“My next question is that when the government was ousted and they got to know that the public came to stand with us … and rejected these thieves and our popularity started increasing … then instead of admitting that you made a mistake, [instead] the kind of injustice they did against us, I never saw it before,” Imran said.
The PTI chief mentioned the treatment being meted out to party senator Azam Swati and those who support the PTI, alleging that the former army chief was behind it all and also responsible for giving “NRO-2” to leaders in government.
“I was told at one point by Gen Bajwa that ‘we have files on your people about corruption and their videos have been made’. I said to him, ‘Is this the job of our agencies? That they make videos and files on people? This nation sustains its agencies for their security by sacrificing.’”
The former prime minister also mentioned his own audio leaks, saying that he was the premier and “my own phone was tapped … no one is asking that this is a violation of the Official Secrets Act. Where does this happen? If I am talking to my principal secretary then that was leaked.”
Imran claimed that according to an opinion poll, “70 per cent” of the people were demanding fresh elections, saying that is what the PTI had attempted to convince the government about through its second long march.
PTI supporters gather at Liberty Chowk
Meanwhile, footage from Liberty Chowk today showed a large crowd of people gathered for Imran’s address.
Earlier, party leader Hammad Azhar lead a caravan of vehicles towards Liberty Chowk.
The movement towards Liberty Chowk began in earnest after Imran wrapped up an important meeting with the Punjab and KP CMs at his Zaman Park residence.
Following the meeting, Parvez said that he returned Imran’s “mandate of the Punjab Assembly back to him”.
Parvez, his son Moonis Elahi and MNA Hussain Elahi were part of the meeting. CM Mahmood, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, senior leaders Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, Pervez Khattak, Shibli Faraz, Ali Amin Gandapur and others were also present, according to a press release from the CM Secretariat about the meeting’s details.
Parvez highlighted how the politics of Imran’s rivals “has been defeated”, adding that “rumour mongers will continue to fail as before”.
Meanwhile, Moonis said the unity between the PML-Q and PTI was “stronger than ever”. “We will say yes to Imran Khan’s voice,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Azhar urged the people of Lahore to participate in the party gathering at Liberty Chowk today. “You need to come out once again today for your economic rights,” he said in a press conference.
The PTI is gearing up for provincial elections following the dissolution of the Punjab and KP assemblies — what it calls necessary to bring “political stability” to the country.
Parvez has repeatedly announced his loyalty and support to Imran by assuring him that he would dissolve the Punjab assembly whenever Imran would ask him.
CM Mahmood has also asserted that he would not waste “a single minute” in dissolving the KP assembly when party leader Imran directs to do so.
PM Shehbaz calls for ‘political stability’
As the PTI geared up to unveil plans for the dissolution of Punjab and KP assemblies, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called for political stability in the country and slammed his opponents for “spreading anarchy”.
“It is required for the sake of loyalty to Pakistan and allegiance that there must be economic stability,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) today quoted the premier as saying.
In a statement carried by state-run APP, PM Shehbaz said that only political stability and an economic charter could “strengthen Pakistan’s national solidarity”.
“The people who had laid land mines in the economic foundations of the country, are out to do the same in the political foundations of the country,” Shehbaz stated in a veiled reference to the PTI leadership.
He said that it was the “desire of someone” that Pakistan should be pushed into [financial] default but assured that neither it would happen nor would they let it happen.
“The people who had hurt public confidence are now out to dissolve assemblies,” he added, claiming that their objective was to create political instability.
“There is no doubt that economic havoc was brought under an agenda and the political instability is a continuity of that action,” he opined.
Shehbaz called upon the nation to ponder why the “wrongdoing junta” suddenly swung into action whenever the country was taken on the path of economic prosperity.
“The political miscreants wanted to force the world to not invest in Pakistan by spreading anarchy, besides hampering the efforts for rehabilitation of the flood-affected people,” Shehbaz said.
He lambasted his political opponents for being self-centric and interested in their political interests and for not being concerned about the plight of the flood victims or the efforts to save them from the harsh winter conditions, hunger, and diseases.
The prime minister vowed that they would rid the public of food inflation and unemployment similar to how they delivered their promises by removing “a liar and corrupt government” with the power of the Constitution.
He also said that in order to provide employment to the youth, it was necessary to get rid of the “politically unemployed”.
The premier went on to advise his political opponents to take pity on the condition of the people of Pakistan, adding that real politics was to bring the public out of the curse of poverty and unemployment.
Shehbaz added that during the past four years of the previous government’s tenure, the people had endured economic upheaval and exhorted the PTI leaders to not create hurdles in the economic prosperity of the country.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah blamed the PTI’s “sedition, riots and anarchy” for “destroying Pakistan’s economy”.
He said that if elections did take place, Imran’s “riotous thinking” would not change.
The minister claimed that the PTI chairman’s agenda was not an election but rather crashing the economy.