Saturday: Addressing the Tiger Force convention in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan briefly issued clarifications on the role of the Tiger Force overseeing food prices. He then proceeded to address the events of Friday’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally in Gujranwala, and vehemently hit back at the opposition.

Khan started off his speech by emphasising upon the role of active citizens in building successful ventures. Addressing members of the Tiger Force—a volunteer forced originally created to help with COVID-19 relief efforts, and recently assigned the task of monitoring food prices—the prime minister stated some ground rules of conduct.

He directed the Force to not directly interfere with or impose upon sellers, but simply document pricing information via photographs and upload them to the newly launched Tiger Force online portal. “Taking action is the job of the administration,” he clarified.

The prime minister then directed his audience’s attention towards a topic they would “enjoy,” and referred to last night’s opposition rally as a “circus.”

Khan expressed explicit distaste for the opposition’s actions and lambasted them for maligning the country’s military leadership through inappropriate language. He likened the opposition to “geedars” (jackals) and reminded the audience of his past prediction of their collusion. He then played a video snippet claimed to be 11 years old, in which Khan was seen stating: “Their interests are the same, so they will come together.” He further claimed that the “thieves” only collude and lash out when their thievery is questioned.

He referred to Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as “two kids” not worth being talked about, and proceeded to lash out at PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in response to his inflammatory speech last night.

“From now on, you will see a new Imran,” he warned the opposition.

He remarked on the Indian media’s celebration of Nawaz’s speech, and reminded the audience that Prime Minister Modi’s government hates Pakistan and Muslims “more than any other Indian government in the history of the subcontinent.” He accused Nawaz of espousing the hateful agenda of India and Israel through his disrespectful display towards the military leadership.

“This attack is not simply on General Bajwa, but on all of Pakistan Army,” he said.

The prime minister also drew attention towards the sacrifices of the army for the country, citing the martyrdom of 20 security personnel on Thursday.

Responding the Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan recalled Nawaz Sharif history of coming to power under the military’s patronage.

Khan referred to Nawaz’s involvement with former Gen (R) Ghulam Jillani, and accused him of “polishing General Zia’s boots” to establish his political career. He also accused Nawaz of getting “crores of rupees from the Mehran Bank to fight elections against the PPP.”

The prime minister lamented that the courts of the country have always let Nawaz escape accountability for his corruption, and commented that it was Nawaz who was exposed through the Panama Papers and “not General Bajwa.” He futher cited instances of PML-N and PPP’s corruption as reported in Western books.

He continued his speech by acknowledging the efforts of the army in helping the government during hardships, citing its assistance during the Karachi rains this year, and during COVID-19. He also commended the military’s willingness to take a budget cut the last two years for the betterment of the country.

Further, the prime minister requested the Chief Justice and NAB to ensure that quick justice is served. He said that the government is willing to provide any kind of logistical assistance the courts may need, as long as pending cases are quicky closed by conducting day-to-day hearings.

Towards the end, he reiterated his warnings to Nawaz Sharif and said: “I will use my full efforts to bring you back to Pakistan and put you in a common jail, not a VIP one.”

The author is a former member of staff. She writes features on current affairs and is interested in issues of social justice, online behaviors, and popular culture. She tweets at @zainabmsheikh and can be reached at zainabmubashir@thecorrespondent.pk.

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