Saturday, December 17, 2022
In a major development, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman (PTI) Imran Khan on Saturday announced the dissolution of the assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on December 23 (Friday).
The announcement of the PTI chief — who was flanked by Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan — came during his address to the party's workers and supporters via video link from his residence in Lahore's Zaman Park.
In response, Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira reiterated that the government's stance still stands — elections for assemblies that will be dissolved and by-polls on the constituencies that are vacated.
Before Imran issued the date, there were reports about CM Elahi not backing the PTI chief's decision, but the chief minister refuted the rumours and vowed that he would back "all of Imran Khan's decisions".
In today's address, Imran thanked both chief ministers for "sacrificing" their respective governments for the "betterment of the country" and announced that his party would now be starting its election campaign.
He also warned the government against employing tactics to delay the elections and said: "I have also spoken to my lawyers [...] it would be against the rules to delay the polls past 90 days."
“The Constitution of Pakistan directs that the ECP should always be ready to conduct elections in 90 days. I know that it will try its best to not do so,” he said.
Imran said that the "struggle should not stop" and that he would hit the streets once he recovers from the injuries sustained on November 3 during an attempted assassination bid in Wazirabad.
"Once we exit the assemblies, 66% of Pakistan will head towards elections," he said, adding that a poll suggests that 70% of the nation seeks snap polls.
Slamming the ruling coalition further for allegedly delaying polls, the PTI chief said: "The government will not even conduct elections in October ."
"The election commission is conniving with them. A very dishonest man is involved with them, who will tell them ways to delay elections,” Imran said while attacking the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja without naming him.
The PTI chief added that he "foresaw the removal of his government" and was aware that some elements wanted to impose Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister.
"General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa told me that he did not want this (Shehbaz becoming PM to happen). So who is responsible? Will anyone tell me this? Gen (retd) Bajwa would tell me that the [ incumbent rulers] are corrupt."
But not conceding defeat, Imran said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) move to remove him "was in my favour" as I have received "unprecedented respect".
“Gen (retd) Bajwa thought the PM and Ishaq Dar are geniuses and will manage the country,” the PTI chairman said, adding that the former army chief realised the nation’s support for Khan’s party after toppling the government.
The former prime minister further said that his party’s popularity increased after April, following his ouster from the government due to a no-confidence motion moved by the then-opposition.
“We haven’t seen such cruelty even during Gen (retd) Musharraf’s time after what Gen (retd) Bajwa did to us,” he said.
The former premier added that corruption worth millions of rupees was "forgiven" by the incumbent leaders — and that is why they wanted to cling to power.
The former premier said that he was told about the threat to his life when he was leaving for the march. “Who would put their lives in danger for money or power?” Khan questioned.
At the outset of his address, the PTI chief said he wanted to inform the people about why did he decide to dissolve the assemblies in both the provinces where his party ruled.
"In this country, until free and fair elections don't take place [...] fears will still remain that the country might sink."
Imran said he provided all the details to the courts about his assets just like every commoner in Pakistan — unlike the ones who "looted" money of the masses and siphoned it abroad.
"All their money, business, and children are abroad. They are living a luxurious life in Pakistan after looting the nation's money," Imran said, claiming that he never thought that he could ever live anywhere else except Pakistan.
The PTI chief said that for the first time in his life, he "fears" that the "corrupt gang" imposed on the country was taking the nation toward destruction. "You can ask any industrialist, labour, and farmer; their finances cannot be managed amid the ongoing economic situation."
The former prime minister claimed that Pakistan witnessed 50-year high inflation after the incumbent government came into power. "They washed away all the hard work we did."
The PTI chief mentioned that the economy — including industries, taxes, exports, and agriculture — witnessed a boost during his party's government, which lasted for nearly four years.
"But this government has not even been able to progress in one sector. Given the situation in the country, over 750,000 people have gone abroad," Imran said as he lambasted the ruling coalition.
The ex-prime minister lamented that the hundreds of thousands of people who left Pakistan were skilled workers and their deprivation will hurt the country in the long run.
Imran further lamented that his government — which was ousted in April — worked hard to revive the economy that was on the brink of default when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) left the government in 2018.
The PTI chief mentioned that the growth witnessed during his party's tenure was last seen during three previous governments — former army dictators General Ayub Khan, General Zia-ul-Haq, and General Pervez Musharraf.
"All these growth targets were achieved because we were hand-in-hand with America on several fronts. So, who was behind all this regime change operation? Why were these corrupt elements brought into power?"
Imran said the direct foreign investment, remittances, tax, and exports have all decreased. "Foreign investors do not trust the government. Since we do not have dollars for repaying energy debt, foreign debt [...]. They do not have a plan except seeking loans from China."
He said loans were not enough as it is tantamount to treating cancer with disprin tablet. "The only solution to it is through wealth creation. If you create wealth, you can ensure that you don't have to beg loans for the next time."
Blaming the coalition government for mishandling the country’s economy, Khan said: “Had they managed the economy well, we would have been fine with them completing the term, but the country is going down. Everything is going down in the country. I’m afraid [Pakistan] is moving toward default.”