LAHORE: A day after PTI Chairman Imran Khan asked his workers and supporters to prepare for a ‘Jail Bharo’ (court arrest) movement, party leaders said they would be first to surrender once Mr Khan issues a call.
Meanwhile, the government has taken a firm stand in the face of agitation from Mr Khan, with PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif on Sunday launching a fresh salvo against Mr Khan, and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah saying that the government was ready to arrest the PTI chief once the party starts the court arrest drive.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, former state minister Farrukh Habib said the workers and leaders of the party were waiting for Mr Khan’s call to fill jails. “The party leadership and workers are not afraid of going to jail when Imran Khan calls. I will go to jail first,” he said.
He said everyone was aware of the country’s situation for the past two months and the current government had ruined the country’s economy.
Govt ‘prepared to arrest PTI chief’ if fresh protest launched, says minister
Mr Habib feared that a government’s deal with the International Monetary Fund would further increase inflation and compound the public’s suffering.
Meanwhile, speaking to PML-N workers at a party convention in Multan on Sunday, Mr Sanaullah criticised the PTI leadership for “creating troubles”.
“In 2014, PTI staged protest demonstrations and tried to stop the journey of progress and prosperity. Imran Khan is following the politics of agitation in the shape of long marches, sealing Islamabad on the pretext of a date for elections,” he said.
Commenting on the PTI’s Jail Bharo movement, the interior minister hoped Imran Khan would be placed in the “same death cell where I was placed during my arrest”.
Dismissing the impression that the PML-N was not ready for general elections, he said the party would contest and win elections and form a government in Punjab.
PML-N’s Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who also addressed the Multan convention, took a jibe at the PTI’s court arrest drive, saying Mr Khan was running a Jail Bharo movement for four years during his tenure as prime minister.
On the arrests of senior PTI leaders and ally Sheikh Rashid, Ms Sharif said they had been “crying like children”. She added, “We spent five years in jail with a smile, but they had started weeping after five days of imprisonment.”
She also named PML-N leaders who were put in jail during Imran Khan’s government, including her father Nawaz Sharif, uncle Shehbaz Sharif, cousin Hamza Shehbaz, and senior party leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Rana Sanaullah, Ahsan Iqbal and others.
‘No Constitution exists’
In Jhelum, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said at a party’s public meeting that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who passed away on Sunday, did the right thing when he ended the Nawaz Sharif government in 1999.
Noting that PPP and PML-N leaders were passing remarks against Mr Musharraf for dislodging the Constitution, Mr Chaudhry questioned: “Does any Constitution exist during the current government tenure?”
“I think retired Gen Musharraf was right in suspending the Constitution because there was zero implementation of the Constitution in the presence of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari,” he said.
Mr Chaudhry said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition was running away from elections and was busy “torturing PTI stalwarts”.
He said the PDM was attacking and entering the houses of PTI leaders to arrest them. “You will kill me in the night, and I will meet you in the headline of the newspaper in the morning,” he said.
He said the government had registered 65 cases against PTI chief Imran Khan, but he was still in Pakistan, unlike PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, who moved to London in 2019 for health reasons.
Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2023
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