PESHAWAR: PTI Chairman Imran Khan Friday attempted to dispel the perception that the Azadi March was ended after a deal with the establishment, saying he did so to avert bloodshed.
The PTI chairman was addressing the media in Peshawar flanked by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and PTI leader Atif Khan a day after the violent long march came to an abrupt end.
In a surprise move on Thursday morning, Khan gave a six-day ultimatum to the government to announce the election date, warning to return with three million people.
“I had observed anger rising among people against the police after what they did to stop the march and there was a fear that if we continue to march as announced, the country would plunge into chaos and anarchy.”
He said that stopped the march to “avert bloodshed” and “no deal was reached with the establishment” amid reports that the party had some sort of understanding with the powerful quarters.
The PTI chairman slammed the government for a “brutal” crackdown against the protesters, saying Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah installed police officers of his choice to launch a crackdown on the PTI workers.
Imran said he has written a letter to the chief justice asking to clear the position on whether people had a right to protest or not.
“The role of the apex court is very important in this regard and we want the assurance from the court.”
The former prime minister said his party will not accept the “imported government” at any cost and warned that if an election date was not announced, the PTI will march again.
“This time we will come with preparation to deal with everything.”
He also rejected the perception that the party had planned to create chaos in the federal capital. “There were families with us, how can one think of doing this with women and kids.”
Demanding the government to announce the election date in June, he said that they have always kept the doors for talks open. “We are making efforts to reach our objective through negotiations.”
He also warned the government of repercussions if it implements the same strategy of launching a crackdown in the next phase of the march.
"Our people will not be arrested from their houses [...] people were under the wrong impression that protesting was their democratic right," the ex-premier said.
Slamming the government over hiking the petrol price, he said the rates were increased under the IMF’s pressure.
“External forces do not want Pakistan to stand on its own. We were also pressurized but we rejected their demand and the nation is paying the price of their weakness.”
Moving on, the PTI chairman said his party would challenge the recently introduced electoral reforms in the National Assembly would be challenged in the Supreme Court.
A day earlier, the NA passed a bill to abolish the PTI government's election reforms giving overseas Pakistanis the right to vote through i-Voting and electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Khan said he invited the then-opposition to hold talks with his government on EVM and the matter of voting rights for overseas Pakistanis, but his offer was declined repeatedly.
The ousted prime minister added that the people who bank on "fake votes" are afraid of the electronic voting machines. "If India conducts elections via EVMs, then why not us. All the elections here are controversial."
Defending KP CM Mahmood for his participation in the long march, Khan said the PTI leader was a citizen of Pakistan who reserves the right to protest against the government.
The PTI chairman defended Mahmood after Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah while speaking to Geo News, said that the federal government had decided to take legal action against him.
“KP CM's participation in (Azadi March) with armed police is an attack on the federation,” said the security czar of the country. He added that his department had contacted the law ministry for its opinion on initiating action against the KP CM.
Responding to a journalist's questions, Khan said he could give a hard-hitting answer to the reporter, but claimed that he did not want to do so.
He stressed that no one "conquers" a country, but they come into power through elections, just like his government did in 2018.
Khan said he was not against the "corrupt" people being in power, rather they wanted transparent elections in the country so no one could raise objections to their results.
To a question that PTI was spreading hate, Khan said he was not involved in inciting the people. "We are trying to unite the people, without dividing people based on ethnicity."
"All your statements are wrong and instead of asking questions you made a speech during a press conference," Khan said, as he got up with anger.
Khan added that he had written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, asking him whether protesting is a democratic right of the people or not.
"I have written the letter to the chief justice of Pakistan, asking him to make the situation clearer [...] I want to ask the judiciary that should we accept every demand like a flock," he said.
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