LAHORE: PTI chief and former prime minister Imran Khan Friday thanked Allah Almighty for saving his life and said the long march will resume after his full recovery.
In a televised address from his wheelchair at the Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Lahore, Imran urged his followers and party members to continue their protest against Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a military official. “Continue your protest against these three individuals until they step down from their posts,” he exhorted them.
Imran said there could not be a fair and transparent investigation into the assassination attempt on him in the presence of the three persons he had pointed out. He also demanded replacement of the inspector general of police (IGP), Punjab.
Imran said he knew about the looming danger beforehand. “I had already learnt that there was a plan in place to kill me somewhere between Wazirabad and Gujrat,” he added.Imran claimed that as against the initial media reports, he sustained four bullets in his shin.
Providing details of how “they” [government leaders and others] planned to assassinate him, Imran said, “They used similar methods they’d tried against [former Punjab governor] Salman Taseer. They tried to accuse me of blasphemy to turn the public against me.” He said that his party was not created under the patronage of any military establishment and he came to power after 22 years of struggle.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan urged Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to hold “black sheep” in his institution accountable. The stature of the army will not fall if you take action against them, he said. He claimed that these “black sheep” were harming the reputation of the institution.He said that the establishment was used to imposing decisions on the people. “This time, they were shocked that the people did not go along with those stealing for the past 40 years.”
He alleged that Pakistan’s own agencies were not allowing democratic processes to continue. “During the by-elections in July, all the state machinery was used […] rigging was done […] but PTI swept the elections.
“What happens next is that more pressure and threats were given. A handler came in Islamabad, a senior officer, and he said that he will show how to straighten them [PTI] out,” Imran alleged.
“More strictness started on media and journalists favouring PTI. Our MPAs are approached, scared and threatened to abandon me […] they threatened to release inappropriate videos and blackmailed them.”
The PTI chief called on Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, telling him that the leader of the country’s biggest party was “not getting justice”. He said: “CJP, whatever was done to me in the last six months, I can assure you it has never been done by the country even with an enemy. I won the highest civil awards […] I raised the respect of Pakistan in cricket […] the Shaukat Khanum hospital is internationally renowned. I made two universities. And then I created the biggest party in the country,” he said.
He repeated that four people were planning to assassinate him, so he had filmed a video to reveal the names of those people. “The tape, which includes the names of four people, will be released if something happens to me,” the former prime minister had said in October while addressing a jalsa in Mianwali. “I have been in the government for three and a half years, I know everyone in the institutions and agencies.”
At the beginning of his address, he started berating the incumbent government and lamented how his government was ousted through a no-confidence motion.“Our government could survive the no-trust move, but they [the coalition leaders] used money to become successful,” he said, adding that the PTI-led government also had the financial means to engage in horse-trading but it refrained from doing so.
He said when the PTI was in power, the-then opposition took out three long marches against their government but “we didn’t stop anyone.”“During the last long march, police, upon the coalition government’s orders, barged into people’s houses at 3am and tortured people. They put them behind bars and tear-gassed peaceful protests in Islamabad.”
Imran accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of being involved with the incumbent government to sideline the PTI.“In the July 17 by-election, the ECP resorted to all sorts of rigging tactics. They employed all maneuvers to discredit me, resorted to mudslinging, and filed cases against me. Government machinery was used and the election body stopped the implementation of electronic voting machines (EVMs). Despite all their efforts, the PTI still won the elections,” he said.
The former premier added that the ECP became a tool of the coalition government to disqualify him in the Toshakhana reference. He said the accusations levelled against him in the Toshakhana case were baseless, as all the record was available.“Despite knowing nothing could be stolen from the Toshakhana, the ECP disqualified me because they wanted to create a level-playing field for Nawaz Sharif.”
Imran said he could not be compared to the Sharif family which had billions of rupee assets abroad and lived in the most expensive apartments in London. He said the party would approach the court against the ECP’s decision to disqualify him, claiming that Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja was a “servant of the Sharif family”.
Before beginning his address, he asked PTI stalwart Dr Faisal Sultan to brief the masses about his health.Dr Sultan displayed Imran’s X-ray reports on a screen and highlighted the details of the injuries that the party chief sustained — including a fracture — among other injuries.
Meanwhile, PTI workers and activists started countrywide protests against the assassination attempt on Imran Khan on Friday afternoon.The party is staging protests in major cities, including Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Malakand, Rajanpur, Bahawalnagar, Muzaffargarh, and Kohat, among others.Imran’s supporters also protested at the Faizabad Interchange. The Islamabad police fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters who resorted to stone-pelting. The police and FC have arrested several PTI workers.The capital police took to Twitter to inform the public about the situation in the twin cities.
Earlier, protesters blocked Rawalpindi’s GT Road from both sides which affected the traffic flow.After the workers ended their protests in Rawat, the GT Road was cleared for traffic. PTI women workers, on the other hand, left after protesting at the National Press Club, Islamabad.
Earlier, some PTI supporters jumped the gate of Governor House, Lahore, while others tried to trespass the barriers.Earlier, the lawyers of Insaf Lawyers Forum also gathered at the venue.
Demonstrations affected traffic at Lahore’s Thokar Niaz Baig and Shahdara Chowk, as well as at the GPO intersection.Demonstrations were also staged at the Maulana Zafar Ali Khan intersection in Wazirabad, where PTI workers blocked the traffic moving from Lahore to Islamabad. In Lahore, the party’s workers and supporters were led by Senator Ejaz Chaudhry.
Karachi’s Shahrah-Faisal was cleared for traffic following protests.Earlier, the Karachi police baton-charged and fired tear gas shells at the protesters on the city’s crucial artery to ensure their dispersal.
PTI MPA Raja Azhar Khan sustained injuries due to the police’s baton-charge and stampede on Shahrah-e-Faisal. He vowed to move court against SSP South. “Shelling and rubber bullets cannot bring down our morale,” he added.
Police said that around 300 to 500 protesters were heading towards Metropole from Gora Qabaristan. The protesters did not stop despite several warnings. Finally, the police used tear gas near the Jinnah Hospital Mor to disperse the protesters.