We’ve made the decision to leave all legislative Assemblies: Khan, Imran
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has announced that his party’s “Haqeqi Azadi” march will not head towards Islamabad as he does not want to spread chaos and anarchy in the country.
“They [government] cannot afford Islamabad march… they cannot stop millions from entering Islamabad. We could have created create Sri Lanka-like situation,” he said while addressing the party’s gathering in Rawalpindi on Saturday.
But, he added that the party has decided to quit all legislative assemblies in the country in a bid to force the incumbent rulers to announce early elections.
“If riots take place then things will get out of everyone’s hands. I tried my best not to take any step which could create chaos in the country,” he added.
“Today I am deciding against marching on Islamabad because we don’t want to spread anarchy in the country,” he announced. “We will not remain part of this corrupt system. We have decided to quit all legislative assemblies.”
Imran said he had discussed the matter of stepping down from all legislative with the chief ministers and final decision in this regard will be announced after PTI’s parliamentary party meeting.
“Instead of causing harm to our country it is better to leave this corrupt system,” he added.
The deposed premier earlier landed in Islamabad for the ‘climax’ of the Haqeeqi Azadi march and arrived in Rawalpindi to address his first public gathering after being injured in a gun attack earlier this month.
“When I was leaving for Rawalpindi from Lahore, everyone advised me against travelling due to wounds in my leg,” the former PM said at the start of his address.
Secondly, Imran said his aides also warned him not to address the public rally in Rawalpindi as “three culprits holding top portfolios will attempt again to kill me”.
“Many prime ministers come and go but public never came out in such large number like they gathered here for me,” he added.
Imran said there would be no difference between animals and humans if people of the country accepted the rulers who came to power through ‘NRO’.
“No society can prosper where there is no rule of law.”
Imran said overseas Pakistanis are standing with him because they are aware of the importance of the rule of law.
“If Pakistan is in difficult situation today it’s not because we are short of resources but due to the absence of rule of law.”
Imran said families like Sharifs and Zardaris are responsible for weakening Pakistan’s institutions in a bid to protect their “looted wealth”.
“I felt ashamed when I had to ask for loans from other countries when I was prime minister.”
Despite all challenges including Covid-19, Imran said his government successfully revived the country’s ailing economy.
“What crime did we commit that our government was toppled through foreign conspiracy,” he asked.
However, Imran admitted that he failed to bring powerful under the law. “Because NAB was under the control of establishment and they [NAB] told me that all cases were ready but they were not receiving orders from the top”.
“Establishment told me to focus on economy and stop pursuing corruption cases… they did not consider corruption wrong. Those who had power did not consider corruption bad.
“Establishment was not part of conspiracy but they did not stop their [then opposition] conspiracy to come to power.”
The former premier claimed that three shooters were deployed in Wazirabad for his assassination plot.
“Mozzam was shot dead by third shooter… a third shooter was there to kill the [prime suspect] so that he does not open his mouth,” he said while likening attempt on his life to the assassination of late prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan.
Imran said he criticised institutions including military establishment and judiciary because “I have to live and die here”.
“My criticism of institutions is positive. I want to strengthen the defence of the country. This country is mine… army is mine.”
“I will fight for the country till the last drop of my blood. I want my country to achieve real freedom. History will bear witness that Imran Khan fought for the country till the last ball.”
He said the one who increased his assets and violated human rights will be judged by history as whether his actions benefited or caused harm to the country.
“Freedom has to be snatched. No one serves it out on plate. My movement for real freedom will continue until we free our people from [slavery].”
Imran said he had announced staging a power show in Islamabad to pile pressure on “imported government” and institutions to hold early elections in the country.
“Without a stable government economy can never be stabilised… we came here to put pressure on government and institutions so that they play their role for elections.”
Imran said PML-N chief and former premier Nawaz Sharif was a major hurdle in holding early polls as the former “is taking all decisions sitting in London”.
“The real problem is that convict [Nawaz] sitting in London who is running away from elections… it does not make any difference for Sharif and Zardari if country defaults because their billion are stashed abroad.”
The PTI chief said the country’s economy is sinking fast and inflation is rising. “There is no other way to save economy except holding elections,” he maintained.
“Elections are need of the hour to save the country from going further downhill.”
PTI leader Azam Swati, while addressing the participants of the long march, questioned the outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s statement that the military had distanced itself from political affairs in February this year.
He also reiterated that he will expose those individuals who allegedly made his private video.
“General Asim Munir [the incoming chief of army staff] you are brave chief of our army. We have nothing to do with you… strengthen your institution,” he added.
Imran Khan had earlier arrived at the venue of the party’s power show in thunderous applaus from the participants of the rally.
Earlier, the deposed premier landed at the Nur Khan airbase in a chartered plane from Lahore and was accompanied by a team of doctors and his nephew Ahmed Khan Niazi.
From there, Imran went to a helipad to travel to Rawalpindi and later arrived at the Barani University helipad.
PTI workers attempted to cross the Faizabad bridge – which was barricaded with containers – and reach the rally. However, Islamabad police removed the workers from the bridge.
Police personnel stated that Section 144, which bars public gatherings, is in effect in Islamabad and that no one was allowed to pass in the form of a rally. PTI workers remained on the Express Highway.
Soon after, containers were removed to open passage from Faizabad bridge to Murree road.
Convoys of PTI leaders, workers and supporters made their way to Rawalpindi on Saturday for the ‘climax’ of the Haqeeqi Azadi march, where party chief Imran Khan is set to appear despite his injuries.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar announced that several convoys from all over Pakistan had reached the garrison city, while other groups were making their way to the location.
He maintained that the gathering would be “historic”.
PTI Senator Faisal Javed arrived on stage at the venue and stated that “kaptaan” Imran Khan would announce if the rally would sit at the assigned location or march forward.
“The Haqeeqi Azadi march has entered a decisive phase today,” he said.
In a video message, Senator Azam Swati stated that the Haqeeqi Azadi was on the way to reach its destination.
“All characters of the regime change will be humiliated by God and this convoy of Haqeeqi Azadi is not going to stop,” he said.
Prior to the march, former interior minister Sheikh Rashid addressed crowds outside Lal Haveli in his hometown Rawalpindi and hoped to rid Pakistan of “thieves, robbers and looters who captured the country”.
He compared the people supporting Imran to those who stood with Fatima Jinnah against military leader Ayub Khan while he was “backed by several politicians”.
Rashid stated that he would depart from his residence at 1:30 pm to receive Imran Khan from the helicopter at the rally venue.
Rashid warned current Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah that his “political grave” would be dug if any harm came to Imran.
“Imran Khan is our guest and Pindi is a loyal city. If any wrong is committed against our guest, we will dig your political grave,” Rashid said.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said a “sea of people” was moving towards Rawalpindi and “millions” would gather there to support the demand for new elections.
He maintained that the incumbent government should submit to the decision of the people and announce new elections.
“Stability in Pakistan depends on general elections and that economic stability was connected with political stability”.
PTI Sindh President Ali Haider Zaidi said that the incumbent “imported government” was “dearly and sadly mistaken” if they believed that containers on the rally routes would stop the “junoon” (passion) the nation had for “Haqeeqi Azadi”.
“Let there be no doubt about this in anyone’s mind!”
Earlier in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, PTI workers left for the rally from the Peshawar Motorway Toll Plaza, with people from Khyber and Mohmand also present.
A convoy led by PTI K-P president Pervez Khattak and former governor Shah Farman reached the Charsada Toll Plaza and began moving towards Nowshera.
PTI leader Hammad Azhar is leading a group to Rawalpindi from the Chanda fort in Gujranwala.
Humayun Akhtar Khan is leading caravans from Lahore, while a “grand caravan” led by member of the Punjab Assembly Ifthikhar Ali Mashwani departed from Ring Road towards the garrison city.
Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas is leading a convoy from Garden Town Lahore. A video on the PTI’s official Twitter handle shows vehicles with attached flags and Raas emerging from his vehicle’s sunroof.