Friday, April 22, 2022
LAHORE: PTI Chairman Imran Khan Thursday asked Pakistanis to gear up to start a campaign for "actual independence" and wait for his call to Islamabad, as the ousted premier stressed he would not accept the "imported government" at any cost.
"The actual party has just begun, our campaign will intensify [...] wait for my call. I don't want anything else except early elections," the ex-prime minister told the Lahore jalsa, calling on the "people who had committed a mistake" to hold early polls.
Khan called on the supporters of PML-N and PPP as well to support the PTI as they were unaware of the foreign conspiracy that had been hatched against his government.
The PTI chairman said his party was a democratic force and wanted democratic solutions. "Those who have committed a mistake, it is your turn to hold early elections."
He also took an oath from the participants:
"Hum sub aj ehed kerty hain kay hum apne mulk ki haqeiqi azadi or jamhoriat kay lie har waqt jid-o-jehd kerainge. Tab tak jid-o-jehd kerainge jab tak election announce nahi hote (We vow to struggle for our country's actual independence and its democracy. We will keep struggling till elections are announced)."
"But I want to make it clear, I do not want any conflict. This is my country and I have nowhere else to go [...] I will live and die in Pakistan," the PTI chairman said.
Khan reiterated that if Pakistan did not have a strong army, then the country would have been split into three parts. "Had our army personnel not sacrificed their lives the way they did, our situation would have been similar to the one in Syria and Iraq."
Berating the incumbent government for ousting him from power, the ex-prime minister alleged they bought the conscience of lawmakers and "polished the boots of foreign powers".
Going into the details of why a "foreign conspiracy" was hatched against him, Khan said that the day he came into power his goal was to give an independent foreign policy to Pakistan.
"An independent foreign policy means that all the decisions will be made in the interest of the people. I cannot sacrifice my countrymen for a foreign power," Khan said.
The PTI chairman alleged that the incumbent rulers were always obedient when foreign powers gave them directives but claimed he did not follow suit, so the foreign powers "did not like it".
Khan said that he also resolved to raise the issue of Islamophobia at every international forum — the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and others — as a strong 1.5 billion Muslim populace was troubled in foreign countries.
"So the foreigners did not like that either," he said.
The third thing that the foreign powers did not like was his attitude of "not taking dictation from anyone". The ousted premier claimed that a foreign power questioned his visit to Russia.
Defending his Russia visit, the PTI chairman said Moscow was ready to provide Pakistan with petroleum products at a 30% cheaper rate as compared to international prices.
"We could sell petrol and Fazlur Rehman (diesel) at 30% cheaper rates," the ex-premier said, taking a jibe at the JUI-F chief, whose party is part of the ruling coalition.
Khan said importing oil from Russia was in Pakistan's interest. He added that the United States asked India to not import oil from Russia, but New Delhi told Washington that it was in their nation's interest to purchase the commodity from Moscow.
"It means that India's foreign policy is for their countrymen's interests, but our foreign policy is to achieve another country's goals," the PTI chairman alleged.
Khan said the foreign powers did not like him boosting trade with China as well.
"Since they did not like all of these things, a conspiracy was planned. But no conspiracy can be successful without the support of Mir Jafars and Mir Sadiqs," the ousted premier said.
He said the incumbent government — comprising of three stooges, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman — fully supported the foreign conspiracy.
Khan claimed that his government was removed from power at a time when the country was progressing, with remittances, tax collection, and development at "historic levels".
"The unemployment level was at its lowest; we were ahead of everyone. Our government also handled the coronavirus in an exemplary manner as we saved lives and the employment of our poor people," Khan said.
Referring to the Toshakhana controversy, he said during the previous governments, the leaders would purchase items from the Toshakhana at 15% of the original cost.
"But when we came into power, we set the rate at 50% — the amount would go to the government. Anything that I bought is on record and everything was done in line with the law," he said.
Khan said he repaired the road outside his house through his personal money and did not take the government's money for it. "I pay my own expenses."
Lashing out at the incumbent government, the PTI chairman claimed that no other prime minister in Pakistan's history has spent so less on himself as compared to him.
Khan urged the judiciary to protect the officers in charge of the corruption cases against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz.
The PTI chairman claimed no government official would take action against the prime minister and his family due to the offices they now hold.
"I ask the courts, is it not your job to protect these officers?"
The ousted prime minister said that during his government, he tried to progress the cases against the then-Opposition, but he failed as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were not under him.
"The NAB wasn't under me, the courts were free [...] what could we have done apart from their FIA cases? And those who had power in their hands did not consider corruption to be bad," the PTI chairman said.
The ousted premier also rejected PM Shehbaz's proposal of forming a commission to investigate the letter-gate scandal and said the PTI would only accept the directives of the Supreme Court in this regard.
Before Khan, former interior minister Sheikh Rasheed said that the PTI chairman's fight will continue against the incumbent government and that he would support him till the end.
Talking about security threats to Khan before the event, Rasheed warned: "If someone harms a hair on Imran Khan's head, the country will face a civil war."
The former interior minister said that people all over the world demonstrated in support of the PTI chairman after he was ousted via a no-confidence move.
Talking about the dissident members of the PTI, Rasheed said that he would hold public gatherings against them. "I am in politics for the 220 million people," he added.
For his part, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that his party defeated both PPP and PML-N in a span of seven years. "In 2018, PTI achieved a historic victory."
"It is for you to decide whether you prefer to live like slaves or with your heads held high," said Qureshi.
Referring to Khan's claim of the incumbent government being backed by the US, Qureshi said that the nation will have to decide today whether Pakistan's future decisions will be made in Islamabad or Washington.
He went on to say that his party's intentions were "clear".
During the jalsa, the PTI accused the government of blocking "all" the roads leading to Minar-i-Pakistan and shutting off internet service.
"Imported government and desperate crime minister think they can stop the nation from rising against this criminal mafia of an imported govt! Will not happen u criminals!" PTI leader Shireen Mazari said in a tweet.
Just a day back, the PTI chairman participated in a Twitter Spaces session — which by far has been one of the largest spaces in Pakistan — where spoke on several issues, including the election commission, former aides, and the letter-gate controversy.
Meanwhile, in the wake of security threats to Khan related to today's PTI rally in Lahore, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had ordered the provision of foolproof security to his predecessor.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office on Twitter said that the premier has directed the Interior Division to take measures in this regard.