Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has warned the government that his party’s gathering in Lahore on Sunday is just a ‘warm-up’ and ‘net-practice’ for its eventual march onto Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s residence in Raiwind, unless accountability in the Panama leaks starts with the premier’s family.
However, Imran hopes the premier will ‘come clean’ before the PTI resorts to that option, warning that if the prime minister is economical with the truth on the scandal he will sink further into a quagmire.
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His statements came while addressing party workers and leaders at the PTI Chairman’s Secretariat in Lahore on Thursday.
Claiming that the political opposition in the country was united over demanding accountability of the prime minister, whose family is named in the Panama leaks with documents linking them to ownership of offshore companies in tax havens which in turn hold foreign properties, Imran said that the matter had stirred the nation.
“Accountability starts with the PM. If he loses his moral integrity, how can he question anyone else?” Imran asked as stated that any one, including the PTI chief will be held accountable only after the premier has been passed through the strainer of accountability.
Imran reiterated that the premier has no moral authority to raise questions on others while failing to satisfactorily answering allegations against him and his family.
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He added that the PTI and the opposition believe that Nawaz should be pressurised to answer allegations of corruption.
“[For the] first time the powerful will be held accountable in Pakistan,” he exclaimed, adding that “it is time to speak the truth and come clean [on Panama Papers].”
Imran also criticised the government’s advertising blitz in newspapers which claimed that the consortium of international investigative journalists had ‘appologised’ for naming Nawaz. The PTI chief said that advertisements cannot hide corruption.
Imran also dispelled rumours of splits which reportedly emerged within PTI’s leadership in the run up to the now delayed intra-party elections, categorically announcing that his party stands united. He stated light heartedly that the Panama Leaks worked in favour of their party as it led to resolution of differences between leaders such as Secretary General Jehangir Tareen and Vice President Shah Mahmood Qureshi as well as Chaudhry Sarwar and Shafqat Mehmood.
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Advising party workers to prepare for Sunday’s rally, Imran apologised to women workers for the harassment and mistreatment they faced in Islamabad. He assured them that such behaviour will not be tolerated on Sunday.
Earlier, during a high-level meeting of party leaders chaired by Imran, they deliberated over differences within the party. The leaders, including Tareen, Sarwar, Mahmood, Aleem Khan, Hamid Khan, Punjab Assembly opposition leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Dr Yasmeen Rashid and Andleeb Abbas, decided to restore all wings of the party including the women, youth, labour as well as Insaf Tiger Forces and the Insaf Students Federation.
They further decided that after Sunday’s rally in Lahore, they will stage similar political gatherings in Multan and Faisalabad in May.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2016.