LAHORE: Pakistan was created along the lines of an Islamic welfare state, but successive rulers pursued their vested interests and did not let rule of law prevail, which is a guarantee for democracy and prosperity in the country, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Monday.

In the current situation, Mr Khan said, the Constitution of Pakistan requires that fresh elections be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly, but all state institutions were making lame excuses like funds shortage to delay elections — which would be a blatant violation of the Constitution.

Addressing intellectuals, religious scholars and students in a televised address from his Zaman Park residence on Monday, the former premier said he went to Russia and convinced President Vladimir Putin to give wheat and fuel at cheaper rates to Pakistan as being supplied to India.

Back home, he said, the former army chief asked him to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine.

Claims Gen Bajwa asked him to condemn Russia after he had convinced Putin to sell Pakistan cheap fuel, wheat

“I told the former army chief that India, which is a strategic ally of the US, was staying neutral and Pakistan should also not get involved in the war between two countries,” Khan said and added that to his surprise, the former army chief himself condemned Russia at a security seminar “to appease the US”.

“With the support of Russia, India reduced its inflation from 7.5 per cent to 5.5pc, but Pakistan’s inflation rate rose from 12pc to 30pc.

The PTI chairman alleged the past rulers had violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by focusing only on looting national wealth and then getting NROs to protect their loot.

“No system was allowed to prevail in Pakistan that could bring the powerful under the law and protect the fundamental rights of the weak,” he said.

Citing example of Singapore, Mr Khan said the country increased its per capita income to $60,000 after punishing its corrupt ministers and looters of national exchequer.

“In Pakistan, per capita income reduced to $2,000 just because it [the system] protected the looters and criminals for being powerful,” he said.

The former premier said his government introduced health card to offer quality healthcare services at public as well as private hospitals up to Rs1 million, which emerged as a massive social protection for the poor in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad, as well as, northern areas.

“It is a matter of grave concern that the incumbent PDM government rolled it [health card] back,” he alleged.

The PTI chairman urged the nation to join his ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ (real freedom) movement to break shackles and bring the powerful under the law of the land.

“Pakistan will have no bright future, if the powerful continued going scot-free after looting the country,” the former premier asserted.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2023

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