Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman (PTI) Imran Khan on Saturday announced that the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies would be dissolved on December 23.

Ex-prime minister Imran, who was flanked by Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan, announced the date during his address to the party’s workers and supporters via video link from his residence in Lahore’s Zaman Park.

“We will sacrifice both assemblies… we are sacrificing them for the nation… there will elections in 66 percent of Pakistan,” he said.

“We will dissolve Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies next Friday and will prepare for elections.”

Imran said that the PTI would go to the National Assembly speaker and ask him to accept the resignations of all PTI lawmakers.

“Last time they chose only eight constituencies which were our weakest to conduct by-elections, but I contested elections on all eight seats and won seven of them,” he said.

“Now the wisdom says go for general elections. But they will not hold elections but we will go for it ourselves. They will try to delay it via the Election Commission of Pakistan, but the Constitution is clear that you cannot delay elections for more than 90 days,” he maintained.

Slamming the ruling coalition for allegedly delaying polls, the PTI chief said: “The government will not even conduct elections in October.”

“The election commission is conniving with them. A very dishonest man is involved with them, who will tell them ways to delay elections,” Imran said while attacking the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja without naming him.

The former premier said that corruption worth millions of rupees was “forgiven” by the incumbent leaders, and that is why they wanted to cling to power.The former premier said that he was told about the threat to his life when he was leaving for the march. “Who would put their lives in danger for money or power?” Khan questioned.

Before Imran issued the date, there were reports about CM Elahi not backing the PTI chief’s decision, but the chief minister refuted the rumours and vowed that he would back “all of Imran Khan’s decisions.”

PTI REMOVAL: Imran, while addressing the rally at Liberty roundabout via video link, said that former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa was behind the conspiracy to oust his government through the no-confidence motion.

“The question is who was responsible? One man was responsible and his name is Gen Bajwa. I did not use to name him because he was army chief. We did not want army to be badmouthed. We want a strong army,” he said.

Imran said that Gen Bajwa was behind the conspiracy. “They [establishment] thought Dar and Shehbaz were some kind of geniuses that they would run the government better than us,” he added.

After my government fell, Imran continued, the masses supported PTI. “Our popularity increased even more after the no-confidence motion. Despite all efforts, they lost by-elections.”

GROWTH UNDER PTI: At the outset of his address, the PTI chief said he wanted to inform the people about why did he decide to dissolve the assemblies in both the provinces where his party ruled.

“In this country, until free and fair elections don’t take place […] fears will still remain that the country might sink.”

Imran said he provided all the details to the courts about his assets just like every commoner in Pakistan — unlike the ones who “looted” money of the masses and siphoned it abroad.

“All their money, business, and children are abroad. They are living a luxurious life in Pakistan after looting the nation’s money,” Imran said, claiming that he never thought that he could ever live anywhere else except Pakistan.

The PTI chief said that for the first time in his life, he “fears” that the “corrupt gang” imposed on the country was taking the nation toward destruction. “You can ask any industrialist, labour, and farmer; their finances cannot be managed amid the ongoing economic situation.”

The former prime minister said that Pakistan witnessed 50-year high inflation after the incumbent government came into power. “They washed away all the hard work we did.”

The PTI chief mentioned that the economy — including industries, taxes, exports, and agriculture — witnessed a boost during his party’s government, which lasted for nearly four years.

BRAIN DRAIN: “But this government has not even been able to progress in one sector. Given the situation in the country, over 750,000 people have gone abroad,” Imran said as he lambasted the ruling coalition.

The ex-prime minister lamented that the hundreds of thousands of people who left Pakistan were skilled workers and their deprivation will hurt the country in the long run.

Imran further lamented that his government — which was ousted in April — worked hard to revive the economy that was on the brink of default when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) left the government in 2018.

The PTI chief mentioned that the growth witnessed during his party’s tenure was last seen during three previous governments — former army dictators General Ayub Khan, General Zia-ul-Haq, and General Pervez Musharraf.

“All these growth targets were achieved because we were hand-in-hand with America on several fronts. So, who was behind all this regime change operation? Why were these corrupt elements brought into power?”

Imran said the direct foreign investment, remittances, tax, and exports have all decreased. “Foreign investors do not trust the government. Since we do not have dollars for repaying energy debt, foreign debt […]. They do not have a plan except seeking loans from China.”

He said loans were not enough as it is tantamount to treating cancer with disprin tablet. “The only solution to it is through wealth creation. If you create wealth, you can ensure that you don’t have to beg loans for the next time.”

Blaming the coalition government for mishandling the country’s economy, Khan said: “Had they managed the economy well, we would have been fine with them completing the term, but the country is going down. Everything is going down in the country. I’m afraid [Pakistan] is moving toward default.”

CONSULTATIONS: Earlier in the day, the former premier held a consultative meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and other senior party leaders.

Imran lashed out at the incumbent rulers over what he called atrocities on his party, saying that even during General (retd) Pervaiz Musharraf’s martial law, he had not witnessed such violence.

“They committed atrocities on us. They put me in jail during Musharraf’s regime but I never witnessed violence I saw during this tenure.”

Imran said that their social media workers were picked and after giving them a beating, they were released the next day.

He said that PTI leader Senator Azam Swati was stripped naked and beaten just because of one tweet. “All that because of a tweet that had truth in it? Everyone knows NRO-2 was given by General Bajwa.”

Imran said that when he was prime minister, he used to ask General Bajwa to take action against the “thieves” as National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was under him. “He used to say to me forget about accountability and fix the economy. How can Pakistan progress if you let these dacoits go scot-free? No society can progress until there is a rule of law. The big thieves destroy a country, not the small ones,” he remarked.

“As prime minister, I will tell the public how you saved people,” he told the participants.

Imran said that he knew about the conspiracy a year ago before it was executed and Shehbaz’s name was popping up for the premier’s post despite him having corruption cases worth Rs16 billion against his name.

“Whenever I used to ask General Bajwa, he used to say we will never do it [accountability] because we want continuity,” he said.

“General Bajwa used to say they are corrupt but now he is fine with them. Are we cattle? Wherever you take us we will go,” he added.

“When I was leaving in March, I had security threat to my life. I knew they will label it [attempt at his life] as religious extremism. I salute Bushra Bibi who used to say to me that this is jihad and you should go out. When I will be able to walk, I will be on the streets again. It is jihad for me and I will never stop.”

‘Gang of thieves’

Imran said there was a consensus within his party that until transparent elections are held, the country will sink further. “I sold everything I had abroad. I gave money trail. My everything is in Pakistan today. I had every opportunity… I lived abroad. I married there. I could have a British passport,” he said, asking the youth to never lose hope.

Imran said that he feared the “gang of thieves” was taking the country towards destruction. “Ask any labourer, farmer, and businessman… there is disparity between income and expenditures… our industries are closing. During our tenure industries grew. Large-scale manufacturing grew. We collected record taxes. We got record remittances. Agriculture grew by 4 per cent. We helped farmers. We were taking Pakistan towards prosperity.”

The PTI chief said that in the last seven months, 0.75 million Pakistanis have left the country as there was so much hopelessness. “These were skilled workers, doctors, engineers etc. There is a ‘daku raj’ in the country,” he added.

Imran said that Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif had left Pakistan ‘on the verge of default’ in 2018 during their previous tenure as well. However, he added, the PTI government performed exceedingly well despite challenges such as coronavirus pandemic.

“Pakistan was among the top three countries which managed the coronavirus pandemic very well. Whatever I am saying you can check on your mobile phones. Our growth rate was nearly 6 in our fourth year in power. We only grew at this rate during Ayub, Zia and Musharraf’s tenures but that was due to US dollars. We did not get any aid but we managed this growth rate.”

He said that there is a 100 per cent chance today that if someone gives loan to Pakistan it will not be returned, adding that this figure was at 5 per cent during PTI’s tenure.

“Industries are closing down and unemployment is on the rise. Inflation is at a 50-year high. Businessmen do not trust this government. Our loans are increasing. Their only hope is China and IMF that somehow they give money. But the way [to improve economy] is what we did. If they had done well with the economy we would have said okay let’s have elections on time.”

Imran said that the government only wanted to delay elections, not to fix the economy but because they fear they will lose the elections. “I believe they will not conduct elections in October as well. ECP chief will tell them how to delay it,” he added.

RANA SANAULLAH: In response to Imran’s announcement, Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira reiterated that the government’s stance still stands — elections for assemblies that will be dissolved and by-polls on the constituencies that are vacated.


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