Friday Feb 17, 2023
Blaming the incumbent coalition government for its "political victimisation" of his party leaders and allies, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has announced kickstarting the ‘Jail Bharo’ (court arrest) movement from Wednesday, starting from Lahore.
"We will fill jails, they [authorities] will have no space left to hide," he said while warning the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led (PDM) government during his address to the nation via video link from Lahore's Zaman Park residence on Friday, where he has been residing since being shot in the legs on November 3 last year.
In the wake of sedition cases filed against his party leaders including Fawad Chaudhry, Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill, Imran Khan on February 4 announced "Jail Bharo Tehreek" and asked PTI workers and supporters to prepare for movement across the country.
“They want to enslave us by threatening to put us in jails,” the former prime minister, who was ousted following a vote of no-confidence in April last year, said vowing to fulfil the wish of authorities.
Khan claimed that the police entered the homes of PTI workers in Multan and were tasked with such threatening tactics. “If this work is being done by the police, then won’t the people hate them?”
The interim government is strongly against the PTI, he added.
While referring to the caretaker setup, he said: “The man with a questionable character was brought in. We have a list of 23 people who had inflicted atrocities of which 16 were brought in.”
The PTI chief also recalled the “torture” inflicted on his party’s leaders highlighting the treatment meted out to Swati, Gill and Fawad.
“Never in history have such acts been committed against political opponents,” Khan lamented.
The tensions between the incumbent government and the PTI have heightened, with no sign of respite as the elections in two provinces — Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — near, following the party's decision to dissolve the assemblies. Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved by the PTI on January 14 and January 18, respectively.
Firing fresh broadside at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the PTI chief said: “It is dangerous that the CEC [Chief Election Commissioner] is showing his inability on conducting the election.”
Khan's fresh criticism comes hours after President Dr Arif Alvi summoned CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja for an urgent meeting on February 20 (Monday) regarding the announcement of the date for fresh general elections.
He said that they dissolved the provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP as per the knowledge that the country’s Constitution clarifies that the elections should be held within 90 days of the dissolution of any assembly.
“The caretaker government and the interim chief ministers would be illegal on the 91st day,” he added.
No disaster could be bigger than that when the judiciary failed to ensure the implementation of the Constitution, he said while hitting out hard at the polls organising authority. "There is no justice where the rule of law collapses."
Khan said that they had been claiming that the coalition government did not have the mandate and they cannot run the country.
Blaming the interim government for obstructing the probe against the assassination attack on him in Wazirabad on November 3 last year, the PTI chief said “its job is to only conduct elections”.
“The interim government first comes and stops the [joint investigation team] JIT and steals records. When an officer goes to collect the JIT report, it is found that only 11 pages of the report are remaining,” he said, adding that the JIT records are being claimed to have gone missing.
The former premier, lambasting the interim setup in Punjab, said that all links were pointing at them and they were worried about being caught.
Lashing out at the incumbent rulers over the recently announced mini-budget, Khan asked as if raising prices is a “tough decision.”
The government has broken the backbone of people by hiking the prices of all daily-use items, the deposed prime minister added. "[IMF] loans are not the solution to the problems being faced by the country."
Taking a jibe at the PDM government, Khan said: “They did not come into power via election but auction. The government does not seem to conduct elections in 90 days. They fear elections.”
The ruling alliance wanted to win elections through the rigging, he accused the authorities and at the same time warned that the PTI would not "keep silent over snatching of elections".
According to the PTI chief, it seems that institutions are under pressure and the government is running away from elections.
He also vowed that the PTI would not let the government rig the elections, no matter what they do.
Turning his guns towards the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh, the former prime minister said the PPP has no vote bank in Karachi but it showed achievement in recent elections in the metropolis.
Referring to journalist Arshad Sharif’s assassination and alleged crackdown against his party’s leadership, Khan said that the government wanted to send them behind the bars, hence, they would launch a court arrest campaign across the country.