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LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan announced the “jail bharo” (voluntary arrest) movement on Saturday, and asked his supporters to get prepared and wait for his call to launch the movement.

“I could have called for a nationwide street agitation but decided to launch the ‘jail bharo’ movement due to the fears that the country’s economy might deteriorate further. Let them (the rulers) get their wish of putting us in jail and then let everyone know as well where the nation stands,” the former prime minister said while addressing at a press conference through a video link here.

Khan’s comments come in the wake of sedition cases filed against his party’s Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry and former member of the National Assembly Shandana Gulzar, while Senator Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill were booked earlier for speaking against the military and regime change.

Imran says PTI to fill jails on his call to protest against govt's vengeful actions

He further said that his party would not remain silent over the atrocities being inflicted on his party’s members; “it was their (coalition government) plan to weaken the PTI by terrorising our leaders and workers.”

“We never committed such atrocities in our tenure,” he added.

While highlighting the government’s ruthless behaviour against the PTI leaders, he pointed out that PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry was arrested from his home at 3 am, adding that what Shandana Gulzar did make her a terrorist. “Moreover, as the court gives bail to Sheikh Rashid, more cases were being filed against him. They break doors, enter homes and arrest people, which affects the children. Whoever speaks against the regime change operation was abducted. They were lodging cases against my party members, arresting them and subjecting them to custodial torture, and thus violating our basic human rights,” he added.

Claiming that there was no rule of law in the country, he said that it was all part of their plan to intimidate the opposition so that the cases against those hiding in London could be quashed and allow them to return.

“We have been facing worse treatment than under former dictator General Pervez Musharraf when I was put into jail,” he added.

On the caretaker governments, the PTI chief lashed out at its composition, claiming that in both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the interim governments were not neutral; “anti-PTI people were brought into the caretaker governments.”

He further said that it was constitutionally binding (on the Election Commission of Pakistan) to hold elections after 90 days of the dissolution of the provincial assemblies.

“However, through harassment, intimidation and arrests of our leaders the rulers were trying to weaken us to the point where they can delay elections; they were scared to contest polls against us,” he added.

While addressing the judiciary, he said that today, entire Pakistan was looking towards them; “the nation was expecting that the judiciary will stand by the Constitution”, adding that if the elections go beyond 90 days, it would mean there was no democracy or rule of law in this country.”

“After the 90 days whoever stays in the government, Article 6 would apply on them.”

He also castigated the coalition government for having no plan to address the tall challenges the country faces, adding that unless the nation wakes up now, everyone would be responsible for its fate.

He also rebuffed the coalition government’s claim that KP had not properly utilised funds allocated by the federal government to prepare against terrorism and that the funds given to KP during the PTI’s tenure were sourced from the other provinces.

“Only two provinces gave the funds, Punjab and KP, while they received no funds from Balochistan and Sindh. The money was prudently spent on the KP’s security; not only had PTI’s government raised the morale of the police in KP but also formed a forensic laboratory in 2017,” he added.

The PTI chairman claimed that terrorism was lowest during his government, but it resurfaced with a vengeance during the incumbent government. He pinned the responsibility for rising terrorism on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. He also recalled the sacrifices made by the people of KP during the war on terror.

Slamming the coalition government for not being able to control the exchange rate, Khan said that when the no-confidence motion came to the National Assembly through a conspiracy, the dollar was at Rs 178, which had climbed by Rs 100 in nine months.

“The devaluation comes with severe repercussions for the common man; it has unleashed unprecedented inflation in the country. Cost of living has skyrocketed and the people with low income were facing difficulty in coping with high food and energy prices,” he added.

He castigated Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for making a mess of Pakistan’s economy; “first he threatened the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and now he had bowed down before the Fund and hoping for a bailout from charity organizations.” “Those who came to power through conspiracy had ruined the country. The imported government has no roadmap for the country’s progress,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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