ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan warned that any bid to rig elections would push the country towards anarchy as PTI activists and supporters took to the streets on Sunday night in almost all the major cities of the country against the runaway inflation, on the call of the party chairman.
Imran Khan addressed the public gatherings through video-link from Bani Gala, telling his supporters that he would soon give a call for peaceful agitation, which would end only with the announcement of an election date.
The party had installed large screens at major protest venues across the country. The major protests were held at Islamabad’s F-9 Park, Karachi’s Shahrah-e-Quaideen, Lahore’s Liberty Chowk, Faisalabad’s Ghanta Ghar Chowk, Rawalpindi’s Commercial Market, Multan’s Shah Abdullah Chowk and Peshawar’s Hasht Nagari Gate. The demonstrations were also held in other cities of the country.
The PTI chairman warned that if the present rulers further stayed in power, they would dump all the state institutions as they had already buried NAB and FIA. Imran emphasised that if general elections were not free and fair, the situation would deteriorate in the country. He regretted that the rulers had taken along the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to rig the by-elections in Punjab and they were using police against their political rivals.
Imran Khan said: “The direction in which the country is moving with exports plunging by 10 per cent and remittances falling, I fear that we are heading on the path of Sri Lanka, which did not have money to buy oil.”
Citing the recent legislation on NAB and FIA-related steps, Imran claimed the 'imposed' rulers had given themselves the NRO-2 and that way, they would eat up the nation’s Rs1,200 billion after having got their corruption cases done away with. Earlier, they already had gotten away with the looted money when they had got NRO-1.
He wondered why they did not start talks with Russia for cheaper oil during these two months, if they really wanted to control inflation. On the other hand, India was buying cheaper oil and Sri Lanka and some other countries were also going to do so. “But you (rulers) can’t do that because you are slaves of America and they have a philosophy that there is no free lunch, there is always a price to pay. So when Miftah Ismail will seek their financial support, our concerns are that the price of this will be our sovereignty and independence,” the PTI chairman said.
The PTI Karachi chapter staged a protest on Shahrah Quaideen Sunday night. A large number of party leaders, workers and supporters attended the rally. At the protest venue, screens were set up to watch Imran's virtual address, which was delivered a little after 10pm.
PTI Sindh Chief and former federal minister Ali Zaidi, former governor Imran Ismail, MPAs Firdous Shamim Naqvi and Arsalan Taj, among other leaders, spoke to the rally participants.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told Geo News that Imran Khan wanted to divide the nation and misguide the youth. However, he claimed, the nation had rejected his campaign. He alleged that fake cases were registered against the PMLN leaders during the previous government as Imran Khan wanted to clear his way in politics by getting all the opposition leaders convicted.
Rana Sanaullah claimed that only 400 to 500 people participated in the demonstrations, held by the PTI in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and DI Khan. He said Imran Khan had failed in his agenda, which was a success of democracy.
Separately, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Sunday that the people of Pakistan had rejected the negative politics of Imran Khan and his call for agitation would end in a miserable flop. In a tweet in response to Imran Khan’s call for protest on Sunday night, she said the people of Pakistan had recognised his fake and hypocritical face.
Taking a jibe at Imran, she said that those who ran away on the night of May 25 now wanted to spread chaos and anarchy in the country over inflation caused by their own inefficient regime as the PTI’s narrative of ‘foreign conspiracy’ had been buried. “Why should people take to the streets for those who sold national interest for a few diamonds,” she asked.
She said why people should come out of their houses to protest on the call of a hypocrite, who plundered the national wealth while in power.
“Why people should come out for a person who deprived the working class of employment and their livelihood,” she said adding that why people should respond to the call of those who were responsible for inflation, economic catastrophe and unemployment in the country. She said that people would not respond to the call of those who created the "storm of inflation" and signed agreements with the IMF on weak grounds. “Why people should come out on the call of those who increased flour price from Rs35 per kg to Rs90, and sugar price from Rs52 to Rs120.”
The minister said that people would not pay any heed to the protest call of those who had launched a "bloody march" last month and shot dead policemen performing their duties. "Why people should go out to protest for those who wanted the country divided into three parts and who sold national interest in exchange for diamond rings for four years.”
People would not take part in demonstrations for those who borrowed record money during their four-year tenure and sold Kashmir and created division in the country. The minister said that the government was correcting the economic direction of the country and at this critical juncture, no violent protests would be allowed.
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