LAHORE: For the sake of Pak­istan and democracy, PTI Chair­man Imran Khan says he is ready to constitute a committee to hold dialogue with powers that be.

“Give me a hint and I will announce committee in a day,” the ex-premier said, reiterating his earlier stance that he would quit political arena if the powers that be — the euphemism he uses to refer to the military establishment — convinced the proposed committee how his ‘elimination’ from political scene would help the country.

In his remarks broadcast via video link from his Zaman Park residence, the PTI chairman also questioned how simultaneous elections across the country in October could best serve the interest of the country.

In the same breath, he remarked, the time was apparently being bought only to crush his party. When Pakistan was sinking in the quagmire of all kinds of crises, why people should wait till October, he wondered.

Mr Khan also told his supporters that the government had cut internet connections in his neighbourhood.

If the establishment could not convince the committee on these counts, he would continue to fight back till the last ball, he said, while issuing a warning to the former ‘not to become instrumental in destroying the country’ in an attempt to oust him from politics.

Differences in judiciary

The PTI chairman appealed to the Supreme Court judges to end their differences and stand united to save democracy and fundamental rights of people. He said the rule of law had also been suspended in the country and the constitution was also not functioning with its absolute power.

“I had decided to dissolve the two provincial assemblies in the hope that fresh elections would be held within 90 days as per constitution but the incumbent rulers, aided by powers that be, did not hold elections in Punjab even on May 14 — the date given on the Supreme Court direction.

“History will never forget if you did not save the democracy at this point of critical juncture in the life of Pakistan,” the ex-premier reminded the judiciary.

He also wondered why no investigations had been initiated into the allegation that law enforcers opened straight fire on unarmed, peaceful protesters. As many as 25 protesters were killed and scores sustained gunshot wounds, he said, adding that he also received reports that legs of at least two protesters had to amputated.

“Respect the fundamental rights of people or announce that the right to peaceful protest has been withdrawn, as the country has become a Banana Republic,” he said.

He alleged that the government was violating human rights by sending people to small cells but rights organisations and journalists, too, were not raising their voice for those who were being punished just for holding peaceful protests. Even journalists’ bodies were not even raising voices for journalist Imran Riaz Khan, he noted.

Defections, pardon

The PTI chairman also regretted that the party leaders, office-bearers and workers were being pressured to quit both the party and its leadership if they want to save their skin.

“Expressions of defections and parting of ways with the PTI has been made a ‘magic wand’ for PTI leaders and workers to get pardon,” Mr Khan lamented.

However, he said he had instructed his party leaders and workers to hide as the government had become ferocious and trying to crush the PTI through power and aggression tactics. “This dark night will soon end as soon as dawn will break,” he added.

Mr Khan said those “working to crush the PTI” should know ideology never dies, rather rises as soon as it gets an opportunity.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023

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