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Imran Khan wins over Lahore

29 September, 2014

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LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf held a massive rally in the capital of Punjab on Sunday at the historic Azadi Park, where Chairman Imran Khan addressed tens of thousands of cheering and charged supporters.

Reiterating his stance that he would continue the sit-in in Islamabad till Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns, Imran said he has announced giving three main things on priority in his "New Pakistan" – justice, uniform syllabus of education and equality – after coming to power. "Your problems are mine and your happiness is mine," the PTI chief said. He asked his supporters to promise to fight injustice and oppression, become true and fearless in all aspects of life. The PTI chief was addressing by far the biggest rally in the city in living memory.

Imran arrived in Lahore from Islamabad at 5pm through a special plane and stayed for a short while at his residence in Zaman Park. He reached the rally at 6pm on his bulletproof vehicle amid tight security, as per schedule. The PTI chief took the campaign to unseat Nawaz Sharif to the prime minister's home base of Lahore, where tens of thousands of people roared their support for change. "Nawaz Sharif should hurry up with his resignation while I wake up Pakistan by organising public protests," Imran told the roaring crowd, which Reuters numbered at 100,000, in the country's cultural capital.

"I am thankful for Lahoris for their massive support. Lahoris have not left me, I will always stand by the Lahoris. I will continue the (protest) until Nawaz Sharif resigns." The persistent protests have become an embarrassment for Nawaz, with some in the prime minister's administration accusing the powerful army of instigating the movement as a way of weakening Nawaz. The protest leaders accuse Nawaz of rigging last year's election which brought him back to power in a landslide, a charge he denies. "I have decided to support Imran (Khan) because he is an honest and brave person," said Sher Shah, a 21-year-old student. "His recent speeches ... inspired me and I believe he can bring change to Pakistan."

On his arrival on the stage, Imran got a push from behind and was at risk of falling over but he managed to regain balance. He thanked God for the massive rally, saying that he had been struggling for the last 18 years to awaken the nation and was delighted to see success. Seeing a massive turn-out in the rally, he challenged Prime Minister Nawaz to assemble only 10 percent of it in the Azadi Park, premising he would end his agitation if that happens. He reiterated that he was not holding the sit-in in Islamabad at the behest of someone, rather was forced to do so after exercising all legal options against the "rigging in general elections".

The PTI chief again alleged that the returning officers had played the main role in rigging the elections, and mastermind of it was former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He urged the last general elections be null and void, saying that his claims about rigging have been proved after the issuance of a report by the Election Commission of Pakistan in which it has accepted that polling stations' schemes were changed at the eleventh hour in the May 2013 elections in favour of the PML-N and ballot papers were printed in five divisions of Punjab illegally.

Imran claimed that the computer system given by the UNDP was shut down by the ECP "for rigging manually in results". He demanded the ECP upload Form XIV on its website. He quoted former NADRA chief Tariq Malik saying that the whole system was deliberately sabotaged to hide rigging. Terming his Lahore rally a "referendum" against the government he said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should delay his resignation so that PTI's movement can have enough time to penetrate every house. He said that the members of the Sharif family are confronted with the "Go Nawaz Go" slogan wherever they go.

Imran said the Supreme Court would take up Ishaq Khakwani's petition seeking disqualification of Nawaz Sharif "for lying". He said that Nawaz Sharif has not shown himself to be a truthful man and lied to the nation about his 10-year exile agreement with the Pervez Musharraf regime, in the case of getting money from the ISI and in the Mehran Bank case. The PTI chief said he had protested when former president Asif Ali Zardari had assumed the presidential post. He said he was the first one to take to streets to raise voice for the missing persons' plight, for Dr Aafia Siddiqui and American attack on Iraq in 2003.

Imran said that all the political parties have joined hands "to protect the looted money" and not democracy. Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, he said, were befooling the people together. Imran said he had not "grown politically in any military nursery" or had the backing of the US but had achieved on his own whatever he has in this field. He said he was not getting any guideline from power corridors and accused Nawaz Sharif of coming to power on the shoulders of General Jilani and General Ziaul Haq.

Imran stated that he did not get US help to come to power because he was sure that in that case he would not be able to change the status quo which was not delivering to the 110 million poor people of Pakistan. Imran again called upon the people not to pay their electricity bills, saying he has done the same. He warned the nation that the government was going to enhance the tariff of electricity within two months despite having hiked it by 80 percent since coming into power about a year and half ago.

Moreover, in Islamabad, while stressing to expand his anti-government campaign across the country, PTI chief Imran Khan on Sunday said sit-in in Islamabad will continue until the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns.

"We will celebrate Eid at 'Azadi Chowk' in style and will continue our protest," he announced while talking to media in Islamabad. He said people will take to the streets in Lahore for their rights today. Imran said the election commission had itself admitted that there were historic rigging in the general elections 2013.

"It is the right of people to ask prime minister reason for him being tax evader and not investing in Pakistan," he said.

He asked, "People are questioning that why PM is not declaring his assets. Is there a difference of law for the 'royal rulers' and the general masses." "I will return to my dharna at Islamabad after addressing the Lahore rally."

He said there is no reason for constituting judicial commission when there is no real democracy in the country. In presence of Nawaz Sharif, no judicial commission can work, he added.

End.

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