Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Minutes after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif unveiled a host of austerity measures, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan heaped scorn at the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led (PDM) government, asking rulers to bring back the country’s “looted money”.
“If you want to do something [for the country], then bring your [looted] money back from abroad,” Khan said on Wednesday while addressing the nation via video link from his Zaman Park residence where he has been recuperating since he was injured in an assassination attempt in Wazirabad on November 3.
At the same time, the PTI chief paid a tribute to his party workers and supporters in Lahore for participating in the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ — the court arrest movement which kick-started earlier today.
The incumbent government unveiled austerity measures to save Rs200 billion — aimed to keep the country afloat as the nation buckles up to meet the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) terms to unlock the next tranche worth $1.1 billion loan facility.
Two days ago, the lower house of parliament also unanimously approved the government’s much-needed Rs170 billion ‘mini-budget’ — a move mandatory for seeking the global lender's loan.
Coming down hard on the PDM, a group of nine political parties, coalition government, Imran Khan said the rulers should “stop fooling people” by sharing plans to cut down the number of government vehicles and sell land. “I thought there would a big decision. [They must be] worried about the nation.”
He also reiterated the government’s promise to fix the country. “Even an enemy won’t do what has happened [in the country] in the last 10 months.” The coalition government came into power after overthrowing the Imran Khan-led PTI regime through a vote of no-confidence last April.
Lamenting the state of the economy, the deposed premier said: “Industries have shut down and people have become unemployed. You and your facilitators are responsible for this inflation."
Reiterating his claim, Khan said that the leadership of the coalition government, after coming into power, had their corruption cases quashed.
Coming back to his court arrest campaign, the PTI chairman said: “The Jail Bharo movement has been started from Lahore. It was initiated to break the chains of fear.”
He added that the “nation is now ready for a revolution” and will not be “fooled”.
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'.
Slamming the PM Shehbaz-led administration, the ousted prime minister said: “The nation is ready to take to the streets. Our goal is that the rule of law and Constitution should prevail in the country, not the jungle’s law.”
The cricketer-turned-politician said that his party began the ‘Haqiqi Azadi’ (true freedom) movement on April 10 last year. “My Haqiqi Azadi movement is to free the country from traitors.”
Speaking about the possibility of the upcoming election in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) while castigating the interim setup in the two provinces, the PTI chief said: “The caretaker government cannot exist after 90 days. If polls are delayed after 90 days, then the nation will have to step outside.”
Khan said that his party would come into power, no matter what happens. “The nation will have to protect this country’s Constitution.
The former prime minister, while criticising Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja’s role in not issuing the schedule for the polls, maintained that Article 6 — high treason — should be applied to the electoral body’s head.
Two days ago, President Dr Arif Alvi fixed April 9 as the date for elections to the provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP — the move condemned by the government as “unconstitutional and illegal”.
The president's decision came hours after the ECP reaffirmed its decision not to consult the president on dates for elections to the two provincial assemblies.
Moreover, the PTI chairman also thanked the people for being there when he appeared before the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday seeking protective bail in the case pertaining to protests outside the offices of the Pakistan Election Commission (ECP). Khan was granted bail till March 3 by the provincial top court.