PTI Chairman Imran Khan said on Saturday that he would announce the date for his “Haqeeqi Azadi March” next Thursday or Friday, warning the government against taking steps to stop the march.

In a press conference alongside Senator Azam Swati, he played down the reports of his arrest and said that even if he were behind bars, the long march would take place.

Regarding backchannel talks, Imran said that he was not expecting any “meaningful result from the talks”.

“Political parties always hold backdoor talks but I don’t think this [ongoing talks] will have any meaningful outcome,” he said.

Imran said the incumbent rulers after suffering defeat in the recently-held by-polls have realised that they cannot compete with PTI in the election. “Hence, they will not call early elections,” he added.

The PTI chief also warned that if the government attempted to stop his ‘organised protest’ then it will result in chaos.

His statement comes a day after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified him in the Toshakhana reference.

Imran said he had been demanding early elections to save the country from going further downhill “as thieves at the helm are busy in closing down their corruption cases”.

Speaking about arrest and alleged torture on PTI Senator Azam Swati, Imran said he had never witnessed such victimisation of political leaders under any democracy. He said Swati was arrested in front of his family and later he was stripped and subjected to torture in the custody.

“I will raise the matter of Azam Swati at every forum.”

The former premier also drew top court’s attention to the matter, saying, “Had suo motu been taken on custodial torture on Shahbaz Gill, this would not have happened”.

“Chief justice must take notice of this and inquire as to who were those people who tortured and stripped him [Swati],” said Imran. “If you allow this to continue then Pakistan will be turned into a banana republic.”

‘Enemy of the country’

The PTI chief furthered institutions cannot earn respect through intimidation and torture. “Such actions will only increase hatred against them.”

Imran said PTI’s social media activists in Punjab were being picked up by “Na Maloom Afraad” [unknown people] over merely critical tweets.

“Everyone is afraid of these Na Maloom Afraad… they are destroying our country. They are the enemy of our country.”

“All this is being done to force my supporters to give statement against me but this will not work,” the PTI chief added.

Speaking on the occasion, Swati lamented that a sitting senator was whisked away and tortured under the so called democracy.

“The Supreme Court should have taken suo motu notice on this… parliament and courts should be closed down if a senator cannot be delivered justice.”

Reiterating his allegations against Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, Imran expressed doubts that someone else was “behind the verdict” against him.

“One thing is sure that he [CEC] cannot give this verdict on his own. Everyone knows that he is a servant of Sharif family but this should be investigated if he was ‘kicked’ from somewhere else.”

Imran said his upcoming long march will be different from the previous one, saying that his party is a specialist in holding such protest rallies.

He also congratulated former federal minister Hammad Azhar and other officials on the removal of Pakistan from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ‘grey list’.

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