ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan was visibly happy. His perseverance paid off. His political arch nemesis, Nawaz Sharif, was disqualified from holding any public office in a case Imran has consistently pursued in the Supreme Court.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman called the Panamagate verdict a ‘great victory for the nation’ which has laid the foundation of his much-touted ‘Naya Pakistan’.
“It’s the beginning… today’s decision will strengthen and evolve democracy in Pakistan, as accountability is the fundamental element of the democratic process,” he said while announcing a massive ‘Thanksgiving Rally’ to be held in the federal capital on Sunday (tomorrow).
He was addressing a news conference at his plush Bani Gala residence shortly after the Supreme Court announced its judgment.
Earlier, the PTI chief had cancelled his scheduled visit to the Supreme Court at the eleventh hour to witness the proceedings. Later, the PTI spokesperson cited some ‘security concerns’ for the decision. PTI activists flocked to Bani Gala where they celebrated what they called their victory.
Imran said the Supreme Court’s historic decision had given a new hope to the nation. “Now, I see a bright future for democracy in Pakistan,” he added.
“A massive struggle that started from the 2013 general elections and followed by a 126-day-long, hectic sit-in, and then a year-and-a-half long struggle for the Panama Papers — from parliament to the roads and finally to the Supreme Court… human beings can only try,” Imran said while summing up the events that led to the decision.
The PTI said he had always imagined that one day Pakistan would leap forward towards its real destination – an Islamic welfare state. He was of the view that Pakistan never became a country it forefathers had idealised, adding that day the foundation stone had once again been laid for the purpose.
The PTI chief said he had no personal animosity against Sharif or any other politician against whom he had been struggling, but added that corrupt politicians had wronged Pakistan and that’s what his fight was about.
He thanked the Supreme Court and the JIT, which probed Sharif’s offshore assets, on behalf of the nation, saying “it shows if institutions have resolve, then they can hold the corrupt accountable.”
“The JIT has done a tremendous job. One cannot even imagine such brilliant and speedy performance from a probe team in Western World,” he observed.
Imran said class system had destroyed Pakistan. “There is one education, health and justice system for the poor and another for the powerful. Jails are filled with ordinary criminals while money launders and big looters are sitting in assemblies,” he said. “A failing justice system destroys the whole nation,” he added.
“Pakistan can never prosper due to the existing strong class system in the country, he said, terming it a collective tragedy of the nation.
The PTI chief said the founder of Pakistan had always advocated for rule of law, adding “If we cannot make Pakistan an Islamic and welfare state, then what is the point in getting separated from India.”
“Who is weakening Pakistan? Is it the ordinary criminals rotting in jails for petty crimes or is it the powerful who have properties worth billions abroad?” he questioned.
He also questioned the integrity of members of the federal cabinet, who were aware of Sharif’s corruption but instead of protecting the rights of the people they preferred to defend the Sharif family’s corruption.
“Have you ever imagined how your actions are impacting the future of Pakistan?” Imran said, addressing the cabinet members.
The PTI chief said he had been struggling for the last 21 years and lived to witness this day when the Supreme Court held the ever powerful person in the country accountable.
He said during that struggle some of his companions ‘got tired’, adding that he would invite everyone to the thanksgiving rally who helped him in any way during his over two decades long struggle.
Imran said that during his struggle against the Sharif family, one thing hurt him the most – attacks on Shaukat Khanum hospital, built and owned by the Pakistani nation and a hope for thousands of poor cancer patients.
“Even enemies avoid targeting hospitals during wars,” he lamented, adding those who did it were ‘traitors of the nation’.
He directed his supporters and party activists to avoid any confrontation and come to Islamabad to join him to celebrate the victory.