ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan Thursday called on the masses to hold demonstrations across the country against the “imported” government this Sunday night, as he hopes to launch a fresh round of protests after halting them last month.
The PTI chairman on May 26 called off the long march in Islamabad fearing “bloodshed” as, during the events leading up to the protest at D-Chowk, three people had been killed — a police constable and two PTI workers.
Imran Khan, who was ousted from power in April, has not accepted the government and has repeatedly said that he will march once again to Islamabad despite cutting short his long march.
“This Sunday, all of you have to protest at 9pm and I will address all of you via video link at 10pm,” the PTI chief told his supporters and common people in a video message, asking them to hold “peaceful” demonstrations.
Imran Khan invited political parties and women to join the PTI’s protest against rising inflation. “It is our democratic and constitutional right to protest; we have always held peaceful protests.”
In a scathing attack on the government, Khan said: “I want to give a message to these people: If you could not handle the affairs of the country, then why did you conspire?”
The PTI chairman has claimed that the United States backed the then-Opposition’s no-confidence motion against him and also issued a “letter” threatening Pakistan’s sovereignty.
He said the government is claiming that his party installed “landmines” for the incoming set-up as it was unable to manage affairs. “Why did you derail a country that was moving in the right direction. [You] did it just to save your corruption,” the PTI chairman lashed out at the coalition government.
Imran Khan said the government, giving reasons for the rising inflation is stating that there is an international crisis, therefore, it has impacted Pakistan as well.
“You have understood this now? We were facing these issues as well. I repeatedly stated that we were saving our people from inflation despite a global increase in prices,” Khan said.
The PTI chairman’s criticism comes as the government hiked the price of petroleum products yet again a day earlier, taking the per litre rate of petrol to a record high of Rs233.89.
In less than a month, the government has increased the price by around Rs84. But officials have stressed that there was no other way as the subsidy was unaffordable and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had also demanded abolishing the subsidies.
Address to event
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan asked on Thursday if India was importing discounted crude oil from Russia to offer the same to its people for 40 percent less, why Pakistan couldn’t follow suit instead of increasing the fuel prices by Rs84 in less than three weeks.
India is the world’s third-largest consumer of oil and over 80 percent of it is imported. Russia rose to become its second-biggest supplier of oil in May, pushing Saudi Arabia into third place but still behind Iraq which remains No. 1, tanker tracking data showed.
In May, Indian refiners received about 819,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Russian oil, the highest thus far in any month, compared to about 277,00 in April, the data showed.
Western sanctions against Russia for its attacks in Ukraine prompted many oil importers to shun trade with Moscow, pushing spot prices for Russian crude to record discounts against other grades.
That provided Indian refiners, which rarely used to buy Russian oil due to high freight costs, an opportunity to snap up low-priced crude.
Addressing lawyers at a ceremony organised by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA), Khan said if New Delhi could procure discounted oil from Moscow, why we couldn’t do the same?
“Lawyers played a crucial role in the independence of Pakistan, in fact, the founding father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was a barrister,” he recalled.
The former prime minister said that just before his ouster, his government was planning to import cheaper oil and wheat from Russia but they were sent packing through an American conspiracy. “It would have been easier for me not to visit Russia, but I went there in the best interest of my people,” he added.
Khan pointed out that this is not the first time the United States has successfully performed a regime change operation. In fact, in 1953, Washington toppled the government of then-prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran.
He added that American diplomats called on disgruntled MPs of his party just after the submission of the no-confidence motion against him. Lawmakers sold their conscience for Rs200 million each in Sindh House of Islamabad, he alleged.
He predicted the inflation rate would cross 30 percent, bringing tremendous pressure on the salaried and middle-class segments of the society. The government of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is focused on ending the cases against its leaders rather than providing relief to the public, he added.
The PTI chair added he had warned the “neutrals” that his ouster would cause direct impacts on the economy. He said he had asked finance minister Shaukat Tarin to brief the op military brass about the financial situation to convince them to prevent the conspiracy from succeeding, he added.
He added they were told that Shehbaz Sharif reached the office at 7:00 am, but it turned out all his efforts were for advertisements. Khan said that the only solution to the crisis is fair and free elections.
He said he was going to perform a “big show” this time, therefore, it was his appeal to the people to become part of it. Khan, however, said he would not disclose details of what he meant by a big show.
He further said that bowing down to Washington’s pressure meant bracing oneself for the “do more” mantra from the superpower.