GUJRANWALA/LONDON: The row between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the ruling coalition on Tuesday heated up with Imran challenging Nawaz and PMLN Vice President Maryam Nawaz hitting at the long march.
Meanwhile, the protest march towards Islamabad could not gather pace. The PTI started the fifth day of its long march from Gujranwala but it could not cross the city. Addressing the participants, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that he will defeat Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-Quaid Nawaz Sharif from his own constituency. “Nawaz Sharif, I challenge you, when you come back, I will beat you in your own constituency,” he said.
Imran said that he was not Nawaz Sharif to run away from Pakistan. “I live and die in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif is waiting to get an NRO from powerful people and then he would come back,” he added. “We will welcome Nawaz Sharif together; we will take Nawaz Sharif from the airport to Adiala Jail. He also rigged the medical reports.”
Nawaz Sharif and Zardari are conspiring together to pit the establishment against the PTI, Imran added. Saying that Azam Swati was brutally tortured, Imran appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to give justice to Swati and Shahbaz Gill. Addressing the CJP, Imran said: “This is our real freedom movement; we are looking towards you and the judiciary. A common man does not have basic rights because he is a slave.”
Blasting the government, Imran said that an NoC is taken from America on oil import from Russia. “Script is given from outside not to take cheap oil from Russia.” The former prime minister said that one party got majority in East Pakistan (in 1970 election) but a politician pitted the Pakistan Army against one party, then Pakistan broke up. “I am asking politely, listen to the voice of people of Pakistan, look where they are standing, our real freedom movement will be continued till the announcement of election date.”
He said that the real freedom march of Tehreek-e-Insaf was moving towards revolution, we would send the thieves home and bring people’s government. The people of Gujranwala have broken the record of Lahore by giving a big welcome to the long march, he said, adding that when the nation will be truly freed, then it become a great nation.
Imran said that facilitators of thieves make decisions in closed doors; first they (facilitators) declared them thieves and then they were given an NRO in closed doors. “We are sending a message to them that we are not sheep and goats and can be driven here and there whenever they want, we are human beings, we will not accept the slavery of thieves.”
Imran said that the time will not come again, so everyone should join the freedom march. “I will call everyone to reach Islamabad, if not by car then by motorcycle or bicycle, and if not by bicycle, then come on foot.”
Meanwhile, speaking during a press conference in London, Maryam Nawaz “exposed” the “actual agenda” of PTI’s long march and said that it has not been arranged for the sake of the nation but its purpose is to stop the incumbent government from appointing the next army chief. The PMLN vice president said that “Imran should know that the appointment of the army chief is rightfully, constitutionally, and legally the right of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. And God willing, the process will be carried out amicably in a good environment.”
PM Shehbaz has said that Khan contacted the government last month for discussing two issues — one of them being the appointment of the army chief. However, the premier refused to discuss it with him, she said.
“Imran Khan’s 22-year political struggle revolves around General Musharraf, Pasha, Zaheer ul Islam, and those whom he calls his eyes and ears,” Maryam said. The PMLN leader said the “part-time” long march ends within two hours after it starts, and it is stuck in Lahore despite the passage of five days. “And now, we are hearing reports that it will take eight to ten more days to reach Islamabad.”
Maryam said at this pace — when Khan leaves for the march after breakfast and leaves for Lahore for tea in the evening — his caravan would not reach Islamabad even after a month. She said that the last card of long march is no more useful for Imran. Maryam said since it was the DG ISI who even avoids taking photos, the nation should understand the seriousness of the situation. “These were such serious lies that DG ISI had to come out and address a press conference.”
She also sent condolences to the family of deceased journalist Sadaf Naeem — who was crushed to death by Imran’s container during the march — and said that the incident forced her to think about the purpose of PTI’s long march. “A precious life was lost. A mother of young children passed away while covering the long march. It forced me to ponder over the purpose of the long march,” she said.
Maryam added that had the march been arranged by someone who had not been in power before, it would have made sense, but someone who ruled the country for four years need not hold such marches. “Look at any area, be it economy, foreign relations, foreign policy, or governance, Imran Khan destroyed all of them during his tenure.”
She said that the way the PTI-led government trampled upon the economy of the country, which led to skyrocketing inflation, Khan should not even be able to utter a word anymore. “Yet, he has taken out a rally on the streets of Pakistan,” she said. Criticising the march further, Maryam said that personnel of the Punjab Police employed to provide security to Khan greatly outnumbered the participants of the march.
“Millions of taxpayers’ money is being spent to provide security to a march which is aimless and holds no national agenda,” she said, adding that it certainly needs a criminal-minded person to spend the public’s money so lavishly without having an iota of remorse.
She further said that the narrative of a conspiracy that Imran built following his ouster has been exposed. “One after the other, his lies started unfolding before the nation which is why the masses are largely indifferent to this long march,” she said.
The PMLN vice president added that this long march was the PTI’s last plan. “Prior to that, they continued building the narrative of a foreign conspiracy to mount pressure on the government and spewed many lies.”
She added that since Imran failed to dissolve the incumbent government and couldn’t ask for a date for the election, he resorted to this aimless long march. The PMLN vice president further censured Imran for bragging about winning the by-elections and said that “he wins from constituencies which he himself vacates and then sings his own praise of winning the elections.” She dared Khan and said that he should wait for his biggest opponent — PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif — who has “not yet been given a level-playing field”.
“Khan’s actual level will be exposed on the day Nawaz will get a chance to step onto the electoral field,” she maintained, adding that the PMLN supremo will “Insha Allah return after ridding himself of all the baseless allegations Khan levelled against him.” “And that day is not far away, because [when my case was being heard in the court], the judges clearly said that none of the allegations against Nawaz Sharif has been proven on the basis of which Maryam was convicted.”
Maryam then questioned Imran about his anti-establishment rhetoric and asked: “Even if we assume that the establishment had told you that the government leaders are thieves, did they tell you to ask for a 5-carat diamond ring? Was it the establishment that told you to steal items from the Toshakhana and secretly sell them? Did they tell you not to declare the money you earned by selling those gifts? Did the establishment tell you to siphon off Rs50 billion? Did they tell you to make Pinky Peerni [Bushra Bibi] your front woman to carry out massive corruption?”
“Even his party members, who he gathered from other parties including PMLN, PPP, etc., know that he is not a blue-eyed boy anymore. That’s why they are not part of the long march either.” She said that the court should take notice of Imran’s statement as he is continuously lying about not being disqualified. Maryam claimed that another big scandal will be exposed soon. “Pakistan had received a diamond set by Graff, one of the leading diamond-manufacturing companies in the world. Imran bought it from the Toshakhana for a price of Rs2 million but sold it off in Dubai for Rs22 million.”
Maryam further said that in total, Khan had looted up to Rs50 million from the Toshakhana, which is the property of the nation. “He will be exposed soon,” she said. “Khan is no longer a stakeholder in Pakistani politics”.
Separately, talking to the media in Islamabad, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said the PMLN knew how to deal with the PTI long march which was aimed at creating chaos and anarchy in the country. Imran Khan’s long march will be sent packing before it would make it to Islamabad, she said.
The minister said the PTI had planned to turn the long march into a “bloody march, but the government would protect the citizens” life and property at all cost.
“Imran Niazi wanted to get a date of fresh election through bloodshed, abuses, guns and bloody revolution, which was near to impossible,” she remarked. He is bent upon dividing the nation and creating anarchy, she said, adding Imran wanted a martial law in the country as he had already hatched a conspiracy to pit the police forces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against the police of federal capital.
She said democracy would flourish in the country and the masses would be served in the best possible way. Marriyum said the statements of Imran Khan showed his desperation to regain the power. He wanted anarchy, chaos and bloodshed instead of democracy, peace and development in the country.
She criticised the PTI chief for openly asking the institutions to interfere in politics by ousting a democratically elected government. The general elections would be held on time, and after the completion of the current government’s term, she added. Imran Niazi was an “autocrat” who had received the certificate of corruption and incompetency by ruling the country for four years, she alleged.
“When a verdict came against his will, he [Imran] started threatening the state institutions,” she said, adding, the people knew the fascist mindset of Imran Niazi and the real truth behind the so-called revolution.
Marriyum said Imran Khan who used to call others thieves could not prove a single allegation against Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz, Maryam Nawaz, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Miftah Ismail during his tenure. He [Imran] filed fake cases and accused PMLN leaders including Hanif Abbasi, Salman Rafiq and Saad Rafiq of corruption, but failed to produce a single evidence, the minister claimed.
As regards the prime minister’s visit to China, the minister was confident that it would give an impetus to the CPEC envisioned by Chinese President Xi Jinping and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
She regretted that the multi-billion corridor project [CPEC] was halted in the last four years by the PTI government, adding not even a single meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) was held during its tenure.
She said the present government had removed all the obstacles in the way of Chinese investment and put all the halted projects on track. Marriyum said ironically, Imran Khan once again launched a long march to spread chaos and anarchy when the prime minister left for China to strengthen the bilateral relations.
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Soon after the blast, the police reached the site and cordoned off the area.