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Wednesday April 17, 2024

PTI rally at Minar-e-Pakistan: Level-playing field doesn’t mean tie my hands, says Imran

Will the nation believe that I am a terrorist? asks the former premier

By Ali Raza & News Desk
March 26, 2023
An overview of the PTI jalsa underway at Lahores Minar-e-Pakistan, on March 25, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — GeoNews
An overview of the PTI jalsa underway at Lahore's Minar-e-Pakistan, on March 25, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — GeoNews

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has censured the PDM government, saying the level-playing field does not mean his party is cornered as almost 150 cases have been lodged against him.

“A level-playing field does not mean Imran Khan’s hands are tied. A century of cases have been filed against me, including 40 terrorism cases. Now, the number of cases is almost 150,” Khan said, addressing a public gathering in early hours on Sunday just a couple of hours before the fourth Sehri of the holy month of Ramazan. He said that many of the cases are under treason and terrorism charges.

He praised his party’s supporters for showing up at the rally’s venue, saying that despite all kinds of obstacles, people in large number came to Minar-e-Pakistan. “Those in power must know that [blocking the roads and pathways with shipping] containers cannot stop people who want true independence,” he explained, adding that fear was spread to frustrate the public meeting.

Imran said that his government was overthrown under a conspiracy and criminals were imposed on the country as part of the plot. He said that persons behind Memogate and DawnLeaks were taking decisions for the country.

He argued that true freedom could only be achieved with justice, citing examples of people in other countries standing up to oppression. He stressed that Pakistan will have true freedom when it has supremacy and rule of law.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that only free and fair elections could lead the country out of current quagmire. He said that people were standing with the judiciary asking the courts that they have to save the Constitution.

Imran asked if the establishment had any plan to rid the country of problems, adding that they had only one plan as to how Imran Khan should be kept out.

He said that we are becoming a laughing stock for other countries, adding that we have a little time to keep things right.

He said that elections are being postponed as the current rulers are scared of their defeat.

He questioned that if using police and Rangers would terrify people, adding that it will only create hatred as people are no more scared of the use of force against them.

Imran warned the people in power that the country was on the verge of collapse, adding that the situation would be irreversible in future.

He recalled that during the 1992 World Cup, all the team members were demoralised but he was sure of our win. He said that he had no fear left in him and will fight for “my country till last ball”.

Khan underscored that the country has not achieved the freedom it deserves under the rule of law and criticised the government and democrats for not upholding it.

“We did not get the freedom which we should have got from the rule of law. It is unfortunate that even our democrats didn’t let the law have an upper hand in the country,” he lamented.

The PTI chairman announced his agenda to take the country out of economic crisis.

Announcing his priorities, Imran Khan said that exports would be enhanced and exporters would be given VIP treatment, adding that in their government the exports were at their peak.

He said that his government would focus on the IT sector, and like India we would boost our IT exports.

He said that tourism would be given special attention to attract dollars.

The PTI chief said that mineral sector would also be given priority, adding that at present the mineral sector was under provincial control and provinces lack funds to tap natural resources.

Imran said that small and medium industry would be promoted and agriculture produce percentage will be raised.

He said that state-owned enterprises, like PIA and Railways, eat up major chunk of government income, so they would be restructured, and tax collection would be increased.

He said that elite class of the country launder their illegal money abroad and it needed to be addressed, adding that through establishing the rule of law this issue would be resolved.

Imran announced to restart health card scheme after coming to power to alleviate the burden of people. He also announced that Dr Sania Nishtar had made a wonderful plan through which ration would be provided to the needy families

He said that youth would be given interest-free loans to take business initiatives, adding that home loans would be given to people.

He also announced giving ownership of Katchi Abadis, saying that all amenities would be provided to the slum areas.

He said that only a leader with public mandate could take tough decisions to save the country, adding that political stability would be his first step

He said overseas Pakistanis have scores of billions of dollars and they would send those dollars to the country only if there would be rule of law that would protect their money.

He claimed that Pakistanis had bought property worth $10.4 billion in a ME state in few years, adding that Pakistanis are rich enough.

Before the arrival of Imran Khan, PTI leader Faisal Javed, while addressing the gathering, said this was the sixth time Imran Khan had his supporters crowding the Minar-e-Pakistan. He cheered up the participants and raised party slogans. He said the government had broken all records of human rights violations.

The government was treating women badly and was also involved in breaking into the houses of PTI workers and leaders without any legal cover. He said recently a raid was conducted at the house of PTI information secretary Farukh Habib. The house of Murad Saeed and many other PTI workers and leaders were raided and women harassed. He said the nation was looking towards the Chief Justice as PTI believes he will give justice. He said the government sent the police to the houses of PTI leaders and workers and placed containers by incurring huge expenses. “With this money, elections can be conducted easily.”

PTI leader Azam Swati, while addressing the jalsa, condemned the caretaker Chief Minister Punjab Mohsin Naqvi and said that Naqvi was a criminal; it was his duty to help and assist the PTI for this jalsa through administration, CCPO and DIG Lahore. He said Mohsin Naqvi used to promise him about removing all the containers but he didn’t. He asked the caretaker chief minister to himself see the flood of people at Minar-e-Pakistan and remember that no one can stop them and they will take Azadi under the leadership of Imran Khan.

Sheikh Rashid, addressing the gathering, said the government was negotiating with the IMF and begging other countries for the past 12 months but nobody was giving them a penny. He said the nation was with Imran Khan and all those channels airing programs against Imran should think about this. He said the PTI has no enmity with any news channel or media house and its only demand was true journalism.

“The nation is looking towards the door of the SC. I am also going to the court,” he announced and said he had already been to jail, so he was not afraid of being arrested.

“Today poor are living a miserable life and Shehbaz Sharif, after giving free flour to the people, calls the owners of media houses and newspapers to publish his picture on front page.”

The PTI organised the Jalsa at Lahore’s monumental Minar-e-Pakistan ground despite the interim Punjab government’s threat alert that terrorists might target political functions in the provincial capital.

Internet services were suspended in different parts of Lahore, including Zaman Park, Minar-e-Pakistan, Garhi Shahu, Davis Road, and Lakshmi Chowk.

The suspension of internet services was reported in areas adjacent to the venue of the PTI public meeting.

Lahore police, however, said that the “security measures” should not be given the impression of “blocking” the roads. The “steps” have been taken in connection with the security threats, the police added.

“Citizens are reaching the Minar-e-Pakistan without any hindrance,” the police official refuted the PTI’s allegations.

People heading towards the venue of the PTI Jalsa were being checked to avoid any untoward incident, the officials added.

Calling on workers to walk to the rally if the roads were blocked, PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the city administration had cluttered the city with barricades to undermine the party’s scheduled public rally, which was suggestive of panic in the government camp.

“How can they call themselves democratic? Are the workers of PML-N arrested?” Qureshi said talking to the media hours ahead of the PTI’s Minar-e-Pakistan rally.

He said the district administration had threatened the transporters that any vehicle bearing PTI flags would not be allowed to enter Lahore.

“Despite all the obstacles, people will come,” the PTI leader said while strictly advising workers not to take the law into their hands.

Despite the fact that police blocked all roads leading towards the Greater Iqbal Park, the PTI supporters, including women and children, reached the venue on foot by parking their cars wherever they found it convenient.

Strict security measures were taken in and around the ground and large contingents of police were present to ensure law and order situation.

Earlier on Saturday, the police launched a crackdown against the PTI workers, while some roads leading to the location were blocked, Geo News reported.The PTI chairman taking to Twitter, called on his supporters in Lahore to attend the jalsa after Taraweeh prayers which he said would “break all records”.

The deposed prime minister, who was ousted last year in April through a vote of no-confidence, said that he will give his vision of “Haqeeqi Azadi” and how to pull the country out of the mess the “cabal of crooks have put our country in”.

Saying that the [government] will put obstacles to prevent the supporters from attending the gathering, Khan highlighted that it is the people’s fundamental right to be a part of a jalsa. “Everyone must assert their right as people of a free nation that won its independence & come to Minar-i-Pakistan,” he added.