Former prime minister Imran Khan has called upon the nation to start preparations for a long march to Islamabad against the PML-N-led coalition government.
“We have decided to run the real freedom movement of Pakistan… the real party has just begun,” the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman said while asking rival political parties’ activists to join his movement against the so-called ‘foreign conspiracy’ hatched to influence the country’s foreign policy.
Addressing the grand power show at the historic Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore Thursday night, the deposed premier said: “I am giving a call to entire Pakistan including PPP and PML-N workers to start preparations… wait for my call when I ask you to march on Islamabad.”
He also thanked the people of Lahore for turning out in a large number. “Today I will give you a future course of action that we will not accept slavery and this imported government.”
“Come what may, I will not accept this government of looters and slaves,” he added.
On April 10, at the stroke of midnight, Imran Khan was voted out from power through a vote of a no-confidence motion, becoming the first prime minister in the country’s history to be unseated by a parliamentary revolt.
Imran said he always wanted to pursue an independent foreign policy so that “we could make all decisions in the best interest of the country”.
He said his government’s decision of pursuing independent foreign policy did not sit down well with those “who would dictate Pakistan on a phone call”.
“They were not happy with my government’s policies towards China, Russia and my stance on Islamophobia,” he added.
The former premier said he visited Russia to import wheat, oil and gas. “Russia was willing to export wheat and oil at a discounted price.”
Imran said history will never forgive those local abettors who he said were part of the “global conspiracy” to topple his government.
The deposed prime minister went on to say that his PTI government was dislodged at a time when the economy was on the right track with remittances and tax collection hit the “historic high”.
“Poverty level in the country was recorded at the lowest level in the entire region despite the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The former premier said those who committed mistake have now only one way to rectify it by calling fresh elections at the earliest. “This is my country and I don’t want any kind of clashes… the protests should remain peaceful.”
“Those who think that this movement will weaken… no this will get stronger.”
Speaking about the Toshakhana controversy, Imran admitted selling foreign gifts, saying he had the road near his hose repaired using proceeding from the gifts received by foreign head of states.
“I did not use the state resources to install security fence and paid for it from party fund,” he added.
Reiterating his allegations that foreign conspiracy was hatched to overthrow his government, the ousted premier asked: “I was the prime minister so who they [US] were asking to remove me.”
“Don’t vote for dissidents as this tantamount to committing treason against the country.”
’Open and shut cases’
Imran said corruption charges against opposition leaders were “open and shut cases” but admitted that despite being in power for over three years he could not do anything to take them to the logical conclusion.
“I tried my best to take the corruption cases to logical conclusion but what could I do as NAB and other institutions were not under my control.”
“The man who is out on bail does not qualify to be clerk but he has been made a prime minister,” he said referring to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
He also demanded the Supreme Court to hold open hearing on ‘foreign conspiracy’ saying that he will not accept any commission formed by the incumbent government to probe the Lettergate.
“We would request the Supreme Court for an open hearing so that people would know how the conspiracy was planned and executed.”
Addressing the charged crowd, former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has warned that the civil war in the country will break out if anything happened to Imran Khan amid “security threats”.
“I will remain to stand by Imran Khan till the last drop of my blood,” he added.
He also accused PPP stalwart Asif Ali Zardari of involvement in the murder of her wife and former premier Benazir Bhutto.
PTI Vice-Chairman and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that a “new conspiracy” is being hatched in Islamabad to disqualify Imran Khan and ban the PTI in the foreign funding case.
“We answered all queries of the ECP [Election Commission of Pakistan] and provided all documentary evidence…but will not accept the lopsided accountability,” said Qureshi while asking the supporters to take the streets to foil the so-called conspiracy.
He also lamented that the PTI-led government was not allowed to complete its five-year constitutional tenure due to “conspiracy”.
Despite “poor” performance, Qureshi said, the previous governments of PPP and PML-N completed their tenure.
A day earlier, Lahore deputy commissioner had advised Imran to address the public gathering via video link instead of physically participating in the rally citing security threats.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif earlier on Thursday also ordered foolproof security for former premier Imran, after the latter received security threats prior to his rally in Lahore.
The premier ordered Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to take immediate and effective measures regarding the security threats and directed him to personally monitor and ensure the implementation of his orders.
A huge stage has been prepared in front of Minar-e-Pakistan with huge containers. PTI leadership said that it will be the biggest ever and the most important public gathering in political history of Pakistan as it will decide the future course of this country.
Punjab PTI President Shafqat Mahmood, on Wednesday, presided over a meeting of the organising committee Minar-e-Pakistan public gathering.
The meeting reviewed all arrangements and highlighted route plan has been finalised. List of participants sitting on the stage along with senior PTI leadership has been decided.
The party had directed all leaders available in the provincial capital to reach Minar-e-Pakistan after Iftar along with rallies.