Govt planning to arrest
me to break momentum,
will give date for biggest
protest soon: Imran Khan

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ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that he would be giving a date for the “biggest protest in Pakistan’s history” within the next few days.

“We have to go all-in for our campaign for true freedom in the next phase. I will give a date within the next few days,” he said while addressing the party’s National Council meeting in Islamabad.

Imran added that the party was first consulting with its lawyers. “It will be the biggest protest in the country’s history. This is our right.” He called on party workers to be prepared. “I have told all party organisations to be prepared. We are waiting to get the all-clear from the Supreme Court. As soon as that is done, I will give the date.”

ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses party’s National Council meeting on Wednesday.

I don’t think of this as politics, I think of it as jihad for the country, he said, once again calling on workers to be prepared when he gives the date.

During his address, Imran came down hard on the ruling coalition government, claiming that it would not dare to take any step without the “permission” of the United States. He also castigated the government over the rise in inflation.

He highlighted that during its entire tenure, the PTI cumulatively raised petrol and diesel prices by Rs55 and Rs50 per litre, respectively. “In 10 days, they raised petrol and diesel prices by Rs60,” he said, adding that gas and power prices had also been increased.

When we were in power, they cried themselves hoarse talking about inflation but compare their two months and our three-and-a-half years, he said.

“This means that inflation was not the cause [behind ousting the PTI government]. If it was, then they would not have done this. They had a different objective which has now been revealed,” he said, adding that the current rulers only wanted an end to the corruption cases registered against them.

Islamabad: PTI chief Imran Khan addresses a lawyers’ convention in Islamabad on Tuesday.

He questioned why the government had not approached Russia to ink an agreement for supplying cheap oil. Talking about his visit to Russia as the premier, he said that the PTI government had negotiated a deal for cheap oil. When we came back, they tabled the no-confidence motion which caused things to slow down.

Imran went on to say that if the government actually cared about inflation, it would have pursued cheap oil from Russia without any delay. “Their finance minister says Russia should come to us and make an offer […]. The truth is they will never do anything without America’s permission.”

He highlighted how India was buying cheap oil in order to provide relief to its people. “If they (government) cared about the people, then their first priority would have been to pursue this.”

He claimed that the current rulers would not take any steps that would anger the US. “My contention is that billions of dollars belonging to the heads of these two parties are stashed abroad. They will never take a stand for the nation which would endanger their [wealth].”

The PTI chairman said that the government was afraid of suffering the same fate as Russian oligarchs, whose wealth and assets were seized in the aftermath of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Look at the direction our country is heading in. Who is benefitting from this?” he asked. He answered his question by saying those forces that wanted to harm and divide the country.

He alleged that foreign forces brought the current government into power as they did not want to see the country strengthened.

“That is why this is a very important time for you,” he told the gathering. “The PTI is the only federal party. The other two: One is [confined to] interior Sindh and the other is [confined to] central Punjab.”

Imran said that the PTI was the only party that could keep the country together, adding that enemy forces wanted to weaken the party and the army. “The forces that were against us are ecstatic that Shehbaz Sharif is in power.”

Lawyers’ convention

Imran Khan on Tuesday said the government wanted to arrest him in order to break the momentum of the ongoing movement against it.

Speaking at the lawyers’ convention in Islamabad, Mr Khan said the government found his arrest the only way to curb the current agitation.

“It is the responsibility of the lawyers to take a stand for the rule of law,” he said, adding that those facing allegations of corruption to the tune of Rs16 billion had become prime minister and Punjab chief minister.

Mr Khan said if the Arab world could take a stand against India over the blasphemous remarks, why not Pakistan?

“The Sharif family should cut its business ties with India,” he added.

The former prime minister also lashed out at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), alleging that it was trying to protect Hamza Shehbaz, which was why it had decided to fill the reserved seats after the by-elections.

“The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) wants to win the by-polls through rigging as it cannot win them in a transparent manner. I would say that wherever they go, people will call them with two names — traitors and thieves,” he said.

The PTI chief said his party’s government had put the country on the right track and the country’s GDP had been increasing at the rate of over five per cent per year.

“Wapda used to float bonds but ever since retired Lt-Gen Muzammil Hussain was forced to resign, the authority’s rating has become negative due to which it cannot take loans to build dams,” he said.