Get ready to court arrest, Imran tells PTI workers

Published February 5, 2023
PTI chairman Imran Khan addresses supporters via video link on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI chairman Imran Khan addresses supporters via video link on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

• Links attendance at Feb 7 multi-party moot with end to ‘political victimisation’, announcement of poll date
• Ex-PM says won’t opt for strike that can hurt Pakistan economy
• Slams Shehbaz for using Peshawar blast to gain ‘political mileage’

LAHORE: Apparently running out of options to press the PML-N-led government to hold elections in two provinces and stop it from ‘political victimisation’, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Saturday announced a ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest drive).

At the same time, the PTI has told the Shehbaz Sharif administration that it may attend the Feb 7 multi-party conference (MPC) on militancy, provided the government stops victimising its leaders forthwith and gives a date for elections in Punjab and Khyber Paktunkhwa.

The ousted premier in a televised address from his Zaman Park residence here on Saturday explained why he announced the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’.

“Now we have two ways — one to come on roads and go for wheel-jam but it will hurt Pakistan economically. The other is to allow this imported government to have its desire to put us behind bars fulfilled by the Jail Bharo Tehreek,” he said and added he was going to start this drive.

“I ask the people to get ready and wait for my call for ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’. The party workers should wait for my call and when l will give the signal to fill jails. I know the jails in the country do not have the capacity to have us all,” Mr Khan said and added let the government’s desire to have them in jail be fulfilled.

At the same time, he made it clear to the PMLN-led government and “their handlers” (a reference to the military establishment) that if they were under the impression that they could frighten the PTI leadership through harassment and custodial torture they were seriously mistaken.

“Nations without a vision die…and I am afraid whether we will survive as a nation. If today we do not wake up and wage a struggle against ‘this government of criminals’ we will be responsible for the consequences,” he declared.

Imran Khan also spoke about harassment and custodial torture of his party leaders, allies and journalists. Of them, he said, the brutal murder of senior journalist Arshad Sharif was extremely painful.

Mr Khan expressed his utter disappointment over blatant violation of the constitution and law especially in the case of delay in polls in Punjab and KP.

“We dissolved governments in Punjab and KP provinces 18 days ago but the governors are not giving dates for polls. The government is trying its best to delay the elections which have to be held within 90 days under the constitution,” he said and added it seemed there was no rule of law in the country and “we are heading towards a law of the jungle where might is right.”

He urged the judiciary to protect the fundamental rights of the people. “Everyone is looking up to the judiciary to protect their fundamental rights. We are hopeful that the judiciary will protect the constitution and elections (in Punjab and KP) will be held in 90 days.”

The former premier further said the Election Commission of Pakistan was siding with the ‘imported government’, both caretaker governments (in Punjab and KP) were a joke in the country’s history as all anti-PTI officers were posted there besides it also had support from the ‘handlers’ in its designs against the PTI.

‘12th man’

While talking about the PDM coalition’s alleged plan to keep the PTI at bay, Mr Khan said: “I tell you what their plan is – first they make sure that the PTI gets weak through my disqualification, arrest and harassment of our party leaders. After that the imported government will call the 12th man (Nawaz Sharif) from London and call the elections to win.”

PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has been in the United Kingdom since Nov 2019 on ‘medical grounds.’ His daughter Maryam Nawaz said he would be among the people of Pakistan “very soon.”

Imran Khan also lambasted the Shehbaz administration for using the Peshawar blast to gain ‘political mileage’.

“Look at the graph of terrorism and how it came down during the PTI government,” he said and blamed the incumbent rulers for the rise in terrorism.

“This is why the people in KP thronged the streets in fear that there may be another operation. Countless innocent lives are lost during anti-terror operations,” he said and dismissed the claim of PM Shehbaz regarding poor utilisation of funds against terrorism in KP.

“KP spent Rs600 billion in nine years which included tribal areas as well. We made four police training schools, an elite training school in Nowshera, a special combat force to fight terrorism, a DNA lab was also built in 2017 at Khyber Medical College. We invested Rs55billion for the tribal districts. The PDM government only gave Rs5bn.”

The PTI chief also talked about the economic woes of the country, saying rupee devalued by Rs100 against one US dollar during the last nine months since the PMLN led government took over which stoked inflation.

PTI sets conditions

The PTI on Saturday appeared to give a second thought to boycott the Feb 7 multi-party conference on militancy and other challenges provided the federal coalition first stops political victimisation of its leaders and gives a date for elections (in Punjab and KP).

“(Prime Minister) Shehbaz Sharif first needs to decide whether to invite us for MPC or indulge in political victimisation as two things cannot go together. Fake FIRs are registered and harassment (of the PTI leaders) continues…you (Shehbaz) first decide what you want to do before inviting us for the MPC,” PTI vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a presser here.

Similarly, another PTI senior leader Pervaiz Khatak said the PTI might review its stance on the MPC provided the government first gave the date for elections.

Earlier, the PTI had said its chairman Imran Khan would not attend the MPC convened by PM Shehbaz on Feb 7 to discuss militancy and other challenges facing the country.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2023

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