PESHAWAR: PTI Chairman Imran Khan Friday attempted to dispel the perception that the Azadi March was ended after a deal with the establishment, saying he did so to avert bloodshed.
The PTI chairman was addressing the media in Peshawar flanked by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and PTI leader Atif Khan a day after the violent long march came to an abrupt end.
In a surprise move on Thursday morning, Imran Khan gave a six-day ultimatum to the government to announce the election date, warning to return with three million people.
“I had observed the anger among the people against the police after what they did to stop the march and there was a fear that if we continue to march as announced, the country would plunge into chaos and anarchy.”
He said that he did so to “avert bloodshed” and “no deal was reached with the establishment” amid reports that the party had some sort of understanding with the powerful quarters.
The PTI chairman slammed the government for a “brutal” crackdown against the protesters, saying Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah installed police officers of his choice to crack down on the PTI workers.
Imran Khan said he has written a letter to the chief justice asking to clear the position that whether the people have a right to protest or not.
“The role of the apex court is very important in this regard and we want the assurance from the court.”
The former prime minister said they will not accept the “imported government” at any cost and warned that if an election date was not given they will march again.
“This time we will come with preparation to deal with everything.”
He also rejected the perception that the party had planned to create chaos in the federal capital. “There were families with us, how can one think of doing this with women and kids.”
Demanding the government to announce the election date in June, he said that they have always kept the doors for talks open. “We are making efforts to reach our objective through negotiations.”
He also warned the government of repercussions if it implements the same strategy of launching a crackdown in the next phase of the march.
“Our people will not be arrested from their houses […] people were under the wrong impression that protesting was their democratic right,” the ex-premier said.
Slamming the government over hiking the petrol price, he said the rates were increased under the IMF’s pressure.
“External forces do not want Pakistan to stand on its own. We were also pressurized but we rejected their demand and the nation is paying the price of their weakness.”
PTI to challenge electoral reforms in SC
Moving on, the PTI chairman said his party would challenge the recently introduced electoral reforms in the National Assembly would be challenged in the Supreme Court.
A day earlier, the NA passed a bill to abolish the PTI government’s election reforms giving overseas Pakistanis the right to vote through i-Voting and electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Khan said he invited the then-opposition to hold talks with his government on EVM and the matter of voting rights for overseas Pakistanis, but his offer was declined repeatedly.
The ousted prime minister added that the people who bank on “fake votes” are afraid of the electronic voting machines. “If India conducts elections via EVMs, then why not us. All the elections here are controversial.”
Defends KP CM’s participation
Defending KP CM Mahmood for his participation in the long march, Khan said the PTI leader was a citizen of Pakistan who reserves the right to protest against the government.
The PTI chairman defended Mahmood after Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah while speaking to Geo News, said that the federal government had decided to take legal action against him.
“KP CM’s participation in (Azadi March) with armed police is an attack on the federation,” said the security czar of the country. He added that his department had contacted the law ministry for its opinion on initiating action against the KP CM.
More to follow…