LAHORE: Rejecting the appointment of Mohsin Naqvi as caretaker chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Monday announced staggered protests against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision in all big cities beginning from Lahore on Tuesday (today).
“I haven’t seen such a dishonest Election Commission that is shamelessly giving every decision against PTI,” Mr Khan said in his address via video link from his Zaman Park residence.
He alleged that Mr Naqvi was the man who remained hyperactive in toppling his government through regime change conspiracy in last April.
Mr Khan said PTI honestly wanted to see Pakistan sail through the current economic crisis. However, he cautioned, this caretaker CM’s appointment would block free and fair elections and push the country towards “anarchy that might lead to East Pakistan-type damage”. “The rulers and powers-that-be are trying to eliminate me and my party, which will have very disturbing consequences for the country,” he added.
“We sacrificed our Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to clear way for the free and fair elections in the country,” he pointed out. However, he alleged, the new set-up has been tasked to delay elections until fielding all “biased umpires” and polling staff with the support of the electoral watchdog.
He predicted that the Naqvi-led government would now bring anti-PTI bureaucrats and police officers with one-point agenda to push his party against the wall. “This is the same agenda of marking ‘red line’ to remove Imran Khan and PTI,” he said.
The PTI chairman said it was high time for the nation to protest and raise its voice against the “nefarious designs” of rulers to protect its future. Giving schedule of rallies, Mr Khan said mass protests would be held in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan and other cities on a daily basis beginning a demonstration in front of ECP Punjab offices in Lahore on Tuesday (today).
Mr Khan said PTI would challenge Mr Naqvi’s appointment as well as ask the court that governors of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were not announcing election dates, which they were duty-bound to announce within 48 hours after the dissolution of assemblies.
“The general elections in Punjab and KP must be held before Ramzan — within 90 days as required by the Constitution of Pakistan,” he added.
“If we will accept Naqvi’s appointment, then no difference will be left between us and sheep,” he commented.
The ex-prime minister said he was always mindful to save country from anarchy and gave examples of his decision to abort long march on Islamabad on May 26, following unprecedented torture on his party leaders and workers, and later on Nov 26, when he decided not to take thousands of people to march on Islamabad after a public meeting in Rawalpindi. “We continued following constitutional limits to avoid conflict, bloodshed and anarchy to ensure Pakistan should not face Sri Lanka-like situation,” he added.
Referring to a claim that a red line had been marked on Imran Khan, he said such actions taken behind closed doors eventually led the countries to pay heavy price. He gave examples of Sheikh Mujeeb, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Nawaz Akbar Bugti, who were given the red line, but the country paid and was still paying the price.
“They [caretaker government] will try to keep PTI leaders and workers engaged by registering FIRs against them, making arrests and subjecting them to harassment,” he said.
To prove his tirade against ECP right, Mr Khan said all the decisions that the commission gave against PTI were overturned by the courts. Referring to the Toshakhana case, he said this government released details about his gifts taken from the state treasury but when the Lahore High Court asked for details of items taken by others, the government said such details were secret.
“The PDM government did not give details to the court because Nawaz Sharif had illegally taken an expensive car from the Toshakhana, while Asif Ali Zardari had taken three expensive cars through the then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2023
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