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Rising inflation, gas shortage, snap polls: PTI holds countrywide protest from today

The PTI announced it would start a country-wide protest movement starting on Friday as the party seeks to force the coalition government into early elections

By News Desk
December 30, 2022
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry talking to the media in Lahore on December 29, 2022. Screengrab of a Twitter video.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry talking to the media in Lahore on December 29, 2022. Screengrab of a Twitter video. 

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) announced Thursday it would start a country-wide protest movement starting tomorrow (Friday) as the party seeks to force the coalition government into early elections.

The PTI has been repeatedly calling for snap elections since ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s ouster in April as it refuses to go back to the National Assembly and keeps on stressing that “early polls” are the only solution to the country’s ongoing crisis, reported local media. But the government has ruled out staging early polls and has told the PTI that given the current situation — floods, census, and new delimitation — the elections cannot be held before October.

“From tomorrow, country-wide protests will start against rising inflation, deteriorating economy, and shortage of gas,” PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry told journalists in Lahore after the party’s high-level meeting with Imran Khan in the chair.

In the first phase, Fawad said PTI’s members of national Assembly and provincial assemblies would lead the protests for three weeks in their constituencies across the country.

“After three weeks, Imran Khan will join the campaign and this process will continue till this government is ousted,” the PTI leader said, asking the nation to join hands with the party.

The announcement to return to the streets comes after PTI’s chief in November called off the long march in Rawalpindi and announced plans for the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, but it is yet to materialise.

The dissolution of the KP Assembly has been linked to Punjab, whose disbandment plans hit a snag last week when the Lahore High Court reinstated Pervaiz Elahi as Punjab’s chief minister and ordered him to not dissolve the legislative.

Fawad Chaudhry said PTI and its ally, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PMLQ), have a majority — 190 lawmakers — in the Punjab Assembly, and they are currently mulling over the vote of confidence. “We will try that CM Elahi takes a vote of confidence before January 11. The 177 Punjab Assembly lawmakers are in contact with us,” the former information minister said.

He also blamed Punjab Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman for becoming part of “a conspiracy” in de-notifying Elahi as the chief minister. “The governor and the chief secretary will have to come to the assembly and answer for their actions.”

The governor had de-notified Elahi as the chief minister, and subsequently, the chief secretary had issued a notification for the dissolution of the cabinet — but the LHC suspended the notifications.

Fawad said it was the PTI’s prerogative to either continue the Punjab government or dissolve it as he slammed the opposition for allegedly horse-trading. “Whenever a market (for buying lawmakers) is staged, Zardari comes to Punjab with bags full of money,” the PTI leader said, slamming the PPP co-chairman.

In his response to reports about the plans to bring forth a technocrat government, the PTI leader said there was “no space” for such a set-up in the country anymore. “PTI’s senior leadership has rejected the plans regarding the imposition of a technocrat government,” Fawad said, asking those “dreaming” of the set-up that their dreams would not come true.

He said that the only solution to the country’s ongoing problems is snap and transparent election, and some elements did not want polls to take place, rather they are aspiring to appoint technocrats for running the affairs. “The Pakistani nation will not, in any shape or form, accept a technocrat government. Nawaz Sharif wants the imposition of martial law, however, it is due to Khan’s patience that no such plans were executed.” He also warned that no matter who is appointed in the technocrat government, they would not be able to overcome the crisis as he told the establishment that the idea would be a “complete flop”.