Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has announced that his party would kick off the much-hyped long march against the ‘imported government’ to Islamabad on May 25.
He announced the decision following the PTI’s core committee meeting held in Peshawar on Sunday.
“I am inviting the entire nation. People belonging to all walks of life including labourers, ex-service men and others should participate in the long march for the real freedom of the country,” said Khan while addressing a news conference along with other party leaders.
“I will meet you on May 25 on Srinagar Highway at 3pm,” he remarked.
The former prime minister demanded of the coalition government led by PML-N to immediately call early elections and dissolve assemblies.
Imran Khan said his party would stay in Islamabad until the date for new general election is announced. “We are ready to sacrifice our lives for our freedom, we will not accept the ‘imported government’ under any circumstances.”
“I am also asking the army to remain ‘neutral’ as they have said earlier that they are neutral,” he commented.
He also warned the authorities against creating hurdles in the long marchers’ way, saying that PTI will take legal action if this happens.
The ousted prime minister has been holding back-to-back rallies across the country as part of his patry’s struggle for achieving “real freedom” and delivering the nation from the “slavery” of the “US-backed” coalition government. Khan, who is training his guns on the new dispensation – an assemblage of political parties that muscled him out from power through a vote of no confidence last month – plans to force the government to announce polls through his ‘Azadi March’.
Before announcing the date of long march at today’s presser, Imran Khan explained in detail the reason for initiating the anti-government movement.
He said the incumbent multi-party government is the result of a ‘foreign conspiracy’ which he claimed was hatched against Pakistan to influence its foreign policy.
“The United States colluded with corrupt individuals for a regime change in Pakistan… I tried my best to stop this conspiracy from happening but unfortunately we could not foil their attempt,” he said.
Reiterating his allegations, he said a day after US under secretary Donald Lu threatened Pakistan with consequences, the no-trust motion was filed against his government.
“My government was toppled at a time when all sectors of the country including economy and exports among others were showing an upward trajectory,” he added.
Khan said those who were involved in the alleged conspiracy against his government sent message to the US that his visit to Russia was his government’s unilateral decision.
“I visited Russia in consultation with all stakeholders including the foreign ministry and the military establishment.”
Taking a jibe at the incumbent rulers, the deposed premier said they lacked planning and capability to steer the country out of prevailing crises.
“The current government is asking the National Security Committee (NSC) to take the responsibility for the increase in fuel prices as they want to put all this burden on the military.”
Facing louder calls for fresh elections with the PTI chairman poised to take a great leap towards the federal capital to throw the government out of gear, the coalition partners are bracing for a similar state of affairs they staged for the former ruling party.
As a confluence of crises continues to test the coalition government, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and allies got down to brass tacks to survive a volley of political setbacks hitting the young government on Saturday.
In an “unannounced” meeting, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari – head of one of the three main coalition parties – called on the prime minister last night to hammer out a strategy to cope with a number of crises, including PTI’s long march, economic woes and the fate of Punjab government following the ECP’s verdict.
A day earlier, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also threatened to leave the government against the backdrop of an ongoing stalemate between the PML-N-led coalition government and the powerful stakeholders of the country.
“If we are stopped from working, our hands and feet are tied and reservations are expressed on our performance then those responsible should take the burden. Why should we take the responsibility when we are not responsible for destroying the economy,” the interior minister said, adding “we would approach the masses after discussing with the [government] allies”.