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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday announced a countrywide protest on June 19 against rising inflation and hike in prices of petroleum products.

In a video message, he called on the masses to hold a countrywide protest on Sunday at 9pm against the rising inflation and unprecedented hike in prices of petroleum products by the “imported regime”. “I want you all to come out against this imported regime, otherwise inflation will further increase,” Khan said, adding he would address the protestors at 10pm on Sunday.

He further said that he would also announce his future plan of action against the “imported regime” as it has made the lives of the people miserable, adding as a nation, we have to raise our voice against the rising inflation and this “imported government”.

Khan reiterated that the no-confidence motion was brought against him with the help of the US. “Our people became turncoats and our allies left us,” he added.

Govt doesn't care about the poor: Imran Khan

Speaking about inflation, he said that every other political party staged protests during his tenure against inflation and 13 political parties which have now made a coalition government with the help of their foreign masters are increasing POL product prices without shame.

“During our three-and-a-half-year tenure, the petrol price increased by Rs50 only and was being sold at Rs150 per litre. We had given a subsidy of Rs200 billion on oil prices”, he added.

Khan said that “we were also asked by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to end subsidies, but we provided relief to people and did not accept their harsh conditions.”

He noted that the incumbent regime has so far increased the price of petrol by Rs85 within a short span of two months, which is appalling.

“We had kept diesel prices lower deliberately in our tenure and it was being sold at Rs145 per litre,” he added.

“When diesel prices increase all transport becomes more expensive”, he said, pointing out that farmers usually face more problems due to the increase in diesel prices.

Speaking about the prime minister, Khan said that Shehbaz Sharif had taken over the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in a bid to drop corruption cases against him.

He added that the money laundering case against the “imported prime minister” was an open and shut case which should have been decided a year ago.

Earlier in the day while addressing lawyers at a ceremony organised by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA), he assailed the government for not having a plan to address the economic challenges confronting the country.

He said that he feared that if the incumbent coalition setup remained in power, the country might face a situation compelling it to compromise on its sovereignty.

Khan said that he feared that the country’s rulers would weaken it economically, and he feared that they may steer the country to a point where those who come to bail us out may put forward a condition that will compromise our sovereignty, and compromise our independence.

“The direction in which Pakistan has headed, I fear that we will [meet the same fate as] Sri Lanka. There has been an economic collapse there and I fear that we are headed in the same direction,” he added.

In this context, Imran also gave the example of the Soviet Union, which he said was militarily strong but economically weak, which is why it broke apart.

In the same breath, he continued that only free and fair elections could save the country from sinking into a mire.

He also berated the government over the recent hike in petroleum prices, saying that inflation would soar as a result of the decisions and people would be crushed.

The PTI chief also claimed that the US embassy had been holding meetings with the PTI dissident lawmakers and opposition leaders at the time.

“Why was the US embassy holding those meetings? Its job is to discuss foreign policy,” he said. “Then our allies part ways, dissident lawmakers are bought to the Sindh House and our government is toppled,” he questioned.

He urged the nation to take a stand against the conspiracy and cautioned: “Otherwise, no prime minister will be able to have an independent foreign policy in the future. He will be scared; he will bend when a threat comes from America.”

He also claimed he had explained to the “neutrals, who could have stopped the conspiracy from taking place” that allowing the conspiracy would exert pressure on the rupee and foreign exchange rate.

“I asked them [the military] not to let any destabilisation take place as the situation could not be handled then. And I also asked ShaukatTarin to explain to them it was not the time to stay neutral and that if the conspiracy succeeded, it would have a direct impact on the economy,” he added.

He also berated the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for not notifying lawmakers on seats that had fallen vacant in the Punjab Assembly after the electoral watchdog de-seated 25 MPAs over defection.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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