ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman Imran Khan has told the government that its threats to throw him and his party workers behind bars would not deter the PTI’s movement for “independence.”
Khan, who was ousted from the prime minister’s office in April, told a gathering of lawyers in Bani Gala: “The way they tortured us was not even witnessed during the martial law eras.”
The ex-prime minister was talking about the events leading up to May 26 — when Khan had announced to call off his “Azadi March” as he feared further bloodshed. Ahead of him reaching Islamabad’s D-Chowk on the day, three people were killed — a police constable and two PTI workers.
“The government is trying to throw me in jail to stop our movement [...] but I am telling you, whether you put us in jails or resort to other measures, this movement will not stop,” the former prime minister said.
Khan vowed that PTI would not call off its anti-government movement and said that it would continue until the date for the next general elections is announced. The incumbent government, however, has ruled out snap polls and said that it would complete its tenure.
The ex-prime minister said he needed lawyers the most at this time to strengthen the movement. "It is the lawyers and the judiciary's responsibility to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in the country."
The PTI chairman said the "incumbent government was imposed on us through a conspiracy” and that was why his party was protesting. He told the gathering that this was a ”decisive” time for the Pakistani nation.
Khan criticised the coalition government and said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son — Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz — were about to be “convicted”.
The ex-prime minister said as soon as the incumbent government officials go out to meet the masses, they start chanting slogans of “traitors” to insult them.
Khan, criticising the government further, said during the PTI’s tenure, the gross domestic product (GDP) was at 5.6% in the third year and 6% in the fourth year.
He said international credit rating agency Moody’s has changed Pakistan’s economic outlook to negative, following which, Pakistan will not get loans from money lenders. “This government has put the country’s future at stake.”
The ousted prime minister told the government that it should take a stern stance on the matter of Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) blasphemy in India and should end its “friendship and business” with New Delhi.
Khan further suggested that the government should boycott Indian products.
Remarks by a spokeswoman for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who has since been suspended, sparked the furore.
Another official, the party’s media chief for Delhi, posted a tweet last week about the Prophet that was later deleted.
Modi’s party, which has frequently been accused of acting against the country’s Muslim minority, on Sunday suspended Sharma for expressing "views contrary to the party´s position" and said it "respects all religions".
Moreover, a day after condemning the highly derogatory remarks, Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Monday also issued a strong demarche to the Indian Charge d' Affaires in Islamabad.
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