Imran plans more rallies, warns against breach of SC order

Published May 7, 2023
PTI marchers pass through Pir Zakuri Bridge Ring Road, Peshawar.—INP
PTI marchers pass through Pir Zakuri Bridge Ring Road, Peshawar.—INP

LAHORE: PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday announced that his party would organise rallies from next week till May 14 to demand elections, as more than half of the country’s population was without representation.

“Do not forget that if the Sup­reme Court gets defied, the Consti­tution would collapse. It means the end of the rule of law and the beginning of law of the jungle. We would not let it happen,” Mr Khan warned.

Addressing a rally in Lahore staged to express solidarity with judiciary, the former prime minister said, “I will organise jalsas (rallies) from next week; will start from here [Lahore] and by May 14, will lead rallies up to Attock. I will go out in public and prepare people…to demand elections.”

The rally lasted less than two hours and featured a ten-minute speech by Mr Khan. “I am on the roads now. Come join me for the sake of posterity. The country is in the throes of deep crises: six soldiers were martyred a day before yesterday, seven teachers got gunned down…and inflation has shot through the roof,” the PTI chairman told his supporters.

Takes a dig at Indian FM over remarks about Bilawal; questions utility of PM’s visit to London

In the middle of these existential crises, what is Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif doing in the UK, he questioned. “The premier is there because his wealth is stashed away in Britain. His kids are abroad. This country is only a ruling pastime for the family,” he claimed, before going on to blame former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa for imposing the current rulers on Pakistan.

“No one has damaged the country more than Bajwa,” Imran Khan insisted in his brief speech, delivered from his bomb-proof vehicle.

He also took a dig at the Indian foreign minister, S Jaishankar, for his remarks about Foreign Minister Baliwal Bhutto-Zardari. “Have Indians forgotten all diplomatic mannerisms and etiquettes? You either do not invite people or you do not misbehave with them. Though the Indian attitude leaves much to be desired, Pakistan’s foreign minister should have calculated the cost-benefit ratio before embarking on this diplomatically risky journey,” Mr Khan added.

“The PTI will lift Pakistan out of the current mess to make it a powerful and respected country by ensuring the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. In order to achieve that goal, I am out on the streets. Come and join me. Join me for the sake of the next generations.”

“I am on the roads despite verifiable threats to life. I have already escaped an assassination attempt once. On the second occasion, I was able to sniff out murder planning,” the PTI chairman claimed and accused a senior intelligence official of orchestrating plans to murder him.

“Despite these murder plans, I am protesting on the roads for the sake of this country. It is your duty to join me because it is not politics but jehad: fight for real freedom is never politics,” Mr Khan claimed.

On Friday, the Punjab government allowed a rally from Zaman Park to Lakshmi Chowk rally – a 4.5-kilometre route – between 2pm to 7.30pm.

The admin had promised to facilitate the rally on certain conditions, like avoiding speeches against the judiciary and the military – a condition Imran Khan violated by directly naming a serving general.

The police party took measures to keep the route safe by blocking all exit and entry points till the end of the rally after 6:20pm. The PTI official social media claimed that rallies at 4,000 different points were taken out on Saturday. It kept streaming footage from Rawalpindi and Islamabad and other places.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2023

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