RAWALPINDI: In an apparent confrontation between the judiciary and the executive over the issue of the prime minister’s conviction, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has put its weight behind the apex court.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced on Sunday that his party would challenge a ruling of the National Assembly speaker on the conviction of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in a contempt case.
Addressing a huge crowd at Rawalpindi’s historic Liaquat Bagh, Imran announced that he would file a petition in the apex court on Monday (today).
“If the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)’s government continues dishonouring the SC order, we will march on Islamabad to establish the rule of law in the country,” he said amidst thunderous applause from thousands of his supporters.
Witnesses say around 100,000 attended Sunday’s rally. However, official sources put the number of participants at 90,000.
The cricketer-turned-politician alleged that the PPP was violating the apex court judgments to conceal the corruption of President Asif Ali Zardari. The president, Imran continued, was “the mother of all ills in the country” including power outages, corruption, inflation and unemployment.
Imran referred specifically to the failure of public sector entities, saying that the reason behind rising inflation was losses accrued in the power sector, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills, et al.
Against the backdrop of a huge crowd cheering him on, Imran said the federal government had spent Rs1,000 billion in the power sector but had failed to overcome the electricity crisis.
Speaking about what he would change if voted to power, Imran said that to make the country a welfare state, his party would tax the wealthy class. Referring once again to the corruption of the incumbent government, Imran said, “This government has continuously been taxing the poor and middle classes to make up for the losses caused by corruption and mismanagement of the ruling elite.”
The PTI chief also declared that he would pave the way for investment in Pakistan, focusing on his clout with overseas Pakistanis: “I have collected Rs60 million from British Pakistanis in one day for my university in Mianwali,” he added.
Cautioning archrival Nawaz Sharif, the PTI chief said the popularity of his party had risen to 33 per cent in Punjab this year from three per cent in 2008. The PML-N, on the other hand, saw its popularity go down to 41 per cent this year from 80 per cent in 2008, Imran said.
At the end of his speech, the PTI chairman said that his party would hold its next public rally in Hyderabad on June 22. Earlier in the evening, PTI’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi castigated President Asif Zardari for attending the Chicago summit when he was unable to bring back any ‘good news’ for Pakistan.
To save the country, it is necessary for the people to besiege the President House and oust the incumbent president, Qureshi said.
To add fuel to the fire, the fiery politician said that the PPP gathering in Liaqat Bagh on December 27, 2007 where former premier Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, was not bigger than Sunday’s rally of PTI.
Meanwhile, PTI President Javed Hashmi said he would contest elections from Rawalpindi, from where he won elections in 2008 on PML-N’s ticket, if his party provided him the opportunity to do so.
He said that he did not want to leave the Rawalpindi seat but PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan “did not want him to retain his seat in Rawalpindi”. Hashmi predicted that the PML-N would not win any seats in the next elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2012.