Flanked by the chief ministers of Punjab and KP, PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses his supporters via video link from Zaman Park.—Twitter/PTIofficial
Flanked by the chief ministers of Punjab and KP, PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses his supporters via video link from Zaman Park.—Twitter/PTIofficial

• Says Punjab, KP legislatures to be dissolved on Friday
• PTI chairman accuses former army chief of ousting his govt in ‘league with foreign hands’, playing ‘double game’
• Former PM hints at restructuring of state institutions after coming to power
• Shehbaz says PTI wants to create ‘political instability’, hamper flood relief efforts
• Sana claims Elahi, Imran not on ‘same page’ on dissolution of Punjab Assembly

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan finally announced the date for the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies and disclosed that both houses would be disbanded on Dec 23 (Friday) to force the government for early elections.

During his virtual address from Zaman Park in Lahore, the former prime minister lashed out at former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and accused him of toppling the PTI government allegedly in league with “foreign hands”. Imran Khan claimed that Mr Bajwa did not allow him to hold the plunderers and corrupt accountable.

“Gen Bajwa committed a mistake but he never realised it, not even after seeing the reaction of the nation [which] sided [with PTI] soon after the toppling of my government,” the PTI chief said.

He also hinted at the restructuring of state institutions as the major step in turning around the fate of the country, currently “heading towards default”.

Flanked by Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Mahmood Khan, the PTI chief expressed his resolve by saying, “We will defeat the families of plunderers and corrupt rulers and help the country rise with a heavy mandate earned in the next elections”.

Ahead of the PTI chief’s address, CM Elahi, his son Moonis Elahi and nephew MNA Hussain Elahi met Mr Khan at his residence and discussed the matter of dissolution of the Punjab Assembly and issues around the action. In a partly exclusive meeting with Mr Khan, the trio reportedly also conveyed (military) establishment’s message as he had travelled to the garrison city and back on Friday evening.

“The Punjab Assembly was Imran Khan’s trust reposed in him and that trust has been returned to him,” CM Elahi tweeted after meeting the former premier. He said he would support every decision of Imran Khan.

Imran’s address

The PTI chairman said that he was never inclined to create any disruption or law and order situation in the country but worked to muster up public support and tell the powers-that-be that people were standing alongside him. “We could have staged a sit-in in garrison city Rawalpindi or marched on Islamabad but held our reins tight and decided to take a legal and constitutional course of action that led to the [announcement of] dissolution of two provincial assemblies and acceptance of party’s 123 MNAs resignations in the National Assembly,” he explained.

In the same breath, the former prime minister said the incumbent corrupt rulers were afraid of holding elections as they know they would be defeated and could be caught again in corruption and money laundering cases.

Asserting that the Election Commission of Pakistan would be bound to hold “general elections” in Punjab and KP in 90 days, Mr Khan feared that the “PML-N-allied Chief Election Commissioner” would give all kinds of excuses to delay the elections as he did when the Supreme Court had allowed holding elections within two months earlier this year.

Mr Khan said the incumbent PDM government had no roadmap to save this country from default as it neither had foreign reserves nor earnings through exports and foreign remittances. This government even reversed the progress the PTI government posted in terms of exports, remittances, and tax collection, he claimed.

PTI chief criticises former COAS

In his 50-minute speech, the former prime minister continued chiding former army chief Bajwa for ditching him as “he was neither allowing him to proceed against the corrupt nor letting him know that he was playing a double game and getting PML-N and its allies to bring in the government through conspiracy”. Personally, he claimed, Mr Bajwa continued assuring him that the PTI government would not be toppled nor the corrupt politicians be installed to rule the country. “I did not speak against Gen Bajwa openly because he was the army chief and any comment could have earned a bad name for the institution,” he said.

After toppling the government in April this year, Mr Khan accused Mr Bajwa of unleashing torture, threats, humiliation, and fake cases against himself, his party leaders, office-bearers, workers, and even social media activists. He also cited examples of slain journalist Arshad Sharif, Senator Azam Swati, his party leader Shahbaz Gill and several other journalists who left the country for fear of threats to their lives.

Asserting that he would again form his government with the support of the masses, Mr Khan said now he was wiser after working three-and-a-half-year in the PM House and knew well how to run a government. “The country will rise by taking strong decisions that include re-structuring of state institutions and not be pushing masses to the wall through price-hike,” he added.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2022

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