PESHAWAR: PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced on Sunday that his "Azadi March", his much awaited long march, will arrive in Islamabad on May 25 and asked his workers to meet him at 3pm at the federal capital's Srinagar Highway.
Khan made the announcement while holding a press conference in Peshawar after concluding a meeting of the PTI's core committee. The former prime minister was flanked by several party leaders, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Mahmood Khan.
Later, taking to Twitter, he told his followers that he wants the "entire nation to come to Islamabad" adding that he would be leading the long march from Peshawar.
During the presser, Khan demanded a date for a fresh election as well as the dissolution of assemblies. He also sent a message to the country's military and asked it to adhere to its promise of "neutrality."
He said that people from all walks of life should be joining his long march, especially women, and added that he will remain in Islamabad for as long as it will be required.
"We are ready to sacrifice our lives but will never accept these thieves ruling the country," he said. "We need a date for the fresh elections and a dissolution of the assemblies."
The former prime minister said that the PTI had always been a peaceful party and had "never instigated violence or chaos."
"This isn't politics, but this is jihad (holy war). If they [the government] tried to stop the long march, that would be illegal and we will take action against it if that happens."
At the beginning of the press briefing, Khan praised the progress his government made during its tenure and criticised the incumbent setup for pushing the country towards bankruptcy.
He then reiterated that a United States-backed conspiracy, "hatched with the connivance of the most corrupt people", ended up becoming successful in removing him and coming to power.
Khan said that he had learned of the "conspiracy" in June last year, adding that he had been trying hard to ward it off but, unfortunately, his efforts bore no fruit.
"This conspiracy was not hatched against me but it was a plot against Pakistan," he said, adding that his government was sent packing at a time when the country was moving towards unprecedented progress in terms of, inter alia, industrial growth and a record-breaking increase in the gross domestic product (GDP).
He then talked about how his government fought against the coronavirus pandemic and steered the country out of the crisis for which the "entire world praised Pakistan."
The ex-premier then criticised the current government and said that while "it was claimed that the leaders of the coalition parties were very experienced people" in terms of their governance skills, it turned out that they were "only experienced in corruption, hiding corruption cases, and seeking revenge against their opponents."
He continued: "Their experience is reflected in the way the rupee is depreciating, the stock market is plummeting, and inflation is skyrocketing."
He said that the government had "no plans, no roadmaps, and was unable to make decisions out of fear" so much so that it had to seek the assistance of the National Security Council (NSC) to determine the prices of petroleum products.
"The government is putting forward such demands so that the Pakistan Army will eventually have to bear the burden of the tough decisions so that it could get off scot-free.
Khan, referring to PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif, went on to say that a "convict, fugitive" was making decisions about Pakistan while sitting in London and said that 60% of the Parliament was roaming free on bails.
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