Former prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday said that lawmakers who were elected on reserved seats and “sold” their loyalties should be “thrown in jail”.

One who has a constituency can argue that the PTI was unpopular in his area and therefore he had to abandon ship, the PTI chairman said at a gathering of Punjab lawmakers in Islamabad.

“That is still understandable [but] how can someone go [to the other side] on a reserved seat? They have clearly sold their conscience. They should be ashamed […] they should be sent straight to jail.”

Imran began his address by paying tribute to the efforts of the lawmakers “fighting till the last ball” in the Punjab Assembly. “I went to meet Asia [Amjad]. She seemed better. She is still unable to speak but she is okay otherwise, thank God,” he said.

Amjad was rushed to a private hospital in Lahore last month after her health deteriorated and was treated for a blood clot in her brain. The PTI had claimed that she was “tortured” by the police and PML-N “goons” during the chaos that took place at the Punjab Assembly on April 16, when election for the chief minister was held.

The PTI chairman recognised the fact that even though Amjad was unable to speak when he visited her, she was full of passion.

“All of you went through a test and your performance was excellent — some were outstanding even,” he said, specifically mentioning the “Pindi team” and the performance of female lawmakers.

“You have passed a very big test. And you have attained a special status in the party and in my eyes.”

He said that turncoats who had abandoned the party, after once making claims of being willing to render sacrifices, had forever humiliated themselves. “People will remind their children about what they have done.”

He said that certain people had advised him buy loyalties of opposing lawmakers. “Our people told me that we can buy their people. We need Rs1 billion and we can buy eight to nine of their people. I got such an offer,” he said, adding that several people were “ready” to provide the money.

“But I made a principled decision.”

He said that those people who would contribute the money would then attach their hopes to earning that money back and that he would ultimately stoop to the level of other political parties.

“What did this achieve? It brought about a revolution the scale of which none of you can imagine,” he said, adding that only time would prove it to be the biggest revolution in the country’s history.

Imran said that his political opponents and their “handlers” had thought he would lose steam after staging the rally in Lahore. “I assure you that what I saw in Mianwali yesterday […] I have never before seen such a rally in Mianwali,” he said, referring to the rally held on Friday.

He recognised the fact that locals came out despite the well-known heat in the city and appreciated that they were well aware of the series of events leading up to his ouster. “Every single person knew, they knew what I was going to say before I even said it.”

Talking about the “public’s displeasure” over turncoats who had abandoned the party, Imran declared that they would never be able to win another election. “Their days in politics are over. They didn’t realise, they thought it was like old times. They don’t know that this country has completely changed.”

He went on to say that the band of “thieves”, a reference to the PML-N and the PPP, was in shock over this. He added that the government — containers and all — would not be able to stop the people that would come out for the PTI’s march on Islamabad.

Imran said that he saw the current public momentum increasing in the days to come, urging lawmakers to capitalise on it and prepare their vote bank. “None of you should waste this time, it will not come again.”

He urged the MPAs to go to the people, assuring them that the people would meet them with great respect. “Everyone knows what has happened in the country.”

The former prime minister said that the country was well aware that a government was ousted through a American conspiracy in connivance with local “Mir Jafars”.

He went on to say that PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz was adamant that the ‘threat letter’, purportedly containing evidence of a conspiracy to oust the former government, was fake. “A person who bases their politics on lies […] will only tell lies.”

He asserted that two meetings of the National Security Committee — “including one chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif” — had reaffirmed his stance on the letter. Imran also lamented that after the alleged American conspiracy “thieves and convicts” had been brought into power.

“So, if you waste a single day, you will only cause harm to yourself […] Normally a politician goes to the people to prepare his vote bank but today the people are waiting for you. I guarantee you that those who have voted for the same party for the last 30-40 years are now waiting for you,” he said, adding that time was of the essence.

He reiterated that the lawmakers had passed a big test, adding that they would be given priority when handing out party tickets. “But if you do nothing, then I will undertake a review,” he said, vowing to personally oversee the distribution of party tickets.

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