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LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday called off its election rally after the police crackdown on its workers.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan asked the workers to return to their homes and not to become part of any illegal act or mess that could provide any excuse to the coalition government to delay the elections.

The PTI election rally, to be led by the former prime minister, was scheduled to commence from Zaman Park and to culminate at Data Darbar. He was expected to address the rally at Data Darbar and announce his future line of action.

However, in his speech on social media, Imran Khan said they were postponing the rally to remain peaceful for the sake of elections; “we want democracy and peaceful elections in the country”. He averred that the use of police on the peaceful rally was an attempt to sabotage peace and thus create grounds to postpone the elections.

He advised his party workers and supporters to remain peaceful and asked them to return to their homes. He pointed out that the rulers were well aware of the fact that they would face a heavy defeat if the elections were held and they would be in great trouble. “I know where they want to take the country to, but we must remain peaceful and give them no excuse to delay the elections,” he added.

He; however, asked them to be prepared to grab their freedom from the corrupt rulers. Murderers, thieves and money launderers have been imposed in the country and they have closed their corruption cases worth Rs 1,100 billion after suspending all anti-graft laws, he alleged. “Pakistan was the only place where people involved in multi-billion rupees corruption scandals were given government.”

Khan condemned the use of water cannons and teargas on their female party workers on International Women’s Day. He underscored that everyone had to play their role to protect democracy in the country. “Democracy means freedom of fundamental rights, but unfortunately what was happening in the country right now could not be imagined in any democracy,” he added.

The PTI Chairman said history will recall how an elected government was toppled in connivance with ‘US-backed conspiracy’. “Pakistan is facing unprecedented inflation while unemployment is on the rise and the rupee has witnessed a historic depreciation of over Rs100 against the US dollar in just 11 months of the coalition government,” he added.

Khan appealed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) for justice and added that the country needed them at this moment. He urged the Supreme Court and legal fraternity to play their role in upholding the Constitution and maintaining rule of law in the country.

He underscored that the country was passing through defining moments and there was a great responsibility on the shoulders of legal fraternity.

“There was a dire need to start a campaign similar to the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) who was unconstitutionally suspended by the then military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf,” he added.

Earlier talking to the media outside the PTI Chairman’s residence at Zaman Park, PTI Central Punjab General Secretary Hammad Azhar castigated the caretaker Punjab government for stopping the PTI election rally and condemned the police action against the PTI workers.

“Today, the whole world saw the true face of ‘fascist regime’; it violated our fundamental rights by preventing our democratic right to hold a rally in connection with our election campaign and arresting a large number of peaceful PTI workers,” he said.

According to him, the rally was supposed to begin right now but the roads were being blocked while their workers were being arrested and vehicles with PTI banners were being attacked; the police cordoned off Zaman Park to prevent the rally. Moreover, the party workers, especially women, were being harassed by the police.

He disclosed that the SSP had approved their security plan last night but suddenly the ban has been imposed on their rally. He castigated the caretaker government for taking illegal steps, saying it was supposed to remain neutral with the sole objective of holding elections in Punjab, but it was banning rallies and political activities, thus creating a hindrance in the election campaign.

He averred that as per the Supreme Court’s orders, a date was set for the elections and the Election Commission of Pakistan has announced its schedule; then how could it ban public gatherings for seven days when elections were taking place on April 30.

“What kind of elections do they want to hold without political activities,” he questioned, adding that today’s action reflects biases of the caretaker government and also proved that the coalition rulers were terrified of the PTI Chairman’s popularity.

Azhar also castigated Punjab caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi and those ‘dictating’ him to end democracy by not allowing any political activity in the city. Naqvi was taking action on someone else’s dictation, he claimed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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