Imran pins hopes in judiciary for ‘PTI’s basic rights’

PTI leader alleges Fawad's arrest part of a plan to rig elections, put pressure

Imran Adnan January 25, 2023
Former prime minister Imran Khan addressing a press conference in Lahore on January 25, 2023. SCREENGRAB


As swirling courtroom peril confront PTI on multiple fronts once again, party chief Imran Khan has urged the judiciary to show its mettle and step in to protect the fundamental rights of the party as a succession of "biased" verdicts hand wins to its rivals eroding constitution.

Following the arrest of Fawad Chaudhry and ECP’s decision to pick Mohsin Naqvi as Punjab’s caretaker chief minister – a move that Imran alleges is aimed at tilting scales in its rivals’ favour for coming polls –  PTI and PML-Q got down to brass tacks to elevate the fight to top judiciary against the “fascist actions” of the government.

Sources also confirmed that the PTI chief rang up his key ally, PML-Q leader Pervaiz Elahi, to discuss ways in which the judiciary could be pressed to intervene.

“After God, it was the supreme judiciary best positioned to provide a shield from the fascist actions of the government,” Elahi was quoted by sources as saying. He assured Imran that he was certain about the judiciary’s role in dispensing justice.

“The lawyers have been asked to approach the courts immediately against government atrocities,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a televised address from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, Imran Khan addressed the judges of the Supreme Court, stressing that they had been entrusted with upholding rule of law.

“The kinds of verdicts being given and how the Constitution and laws are being torn apart, there is no future for such a country.”

He reiterated that the nation was looking towards the apex court and Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial for justice and rule of law in the country.

The former prime minister noted that courts and the legal fraternity had the great responsibility of ensuring rule of law in the country. “If you do not stand against the ongoing oppression, history will never forgive you,” Imran said while addressing judges.

“The country has been turned into a banana republic where the law only goes after the weak.”

Imran further stressed that the PTI expected the judiciary to protect its fundamental rights. "I salute the judge who repeatedly asked to produce Fawad in court but he wasn't," he added.

Commenting on Fawad Chaudhry’s arrest on sedition charges, Imran He also questioned what the party leader’s crime was. “It is a crime to call the election commissioner a munshi (clerk)?” he asked, referring to Fawad’s press talk on Tuesday.

Slamming the move to take Fawad into police custody, he termed the arrest “part of a plan to rig elections”. He said PTI workers were being arrested and there are plans in place against his party, alleging that the caretaker setup was also a part of this plan.

Urging the lawyer community and the public in general, he said the time had come to stand up against the injustice as such a situation would bring nothing but devastation to the country.

He went on to paint a bleak portrait of the country’s future given the kind of fate that was being contrived for it. He urged the people to get rid of their fear of jails like him and stand up for their rights and author their own fate with courage.

“Attempts are being made to silence my voice but I will fight against the status quo till the last ball. I will never give up and accept the slavery of imported rulers imposed in the country through a regime change operation.”

Questioning why the Election Commission of Pakistan chose Mohsin Naqvi as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab, he said that it is the electoral body's responsibility to hold free and fair elections in the country as per Article 218(3) of the Constitution.

"Did you not know about his background? Did you not know he had a major role in the regime change operation [against PTI]? He was very active to oust us. His channel was also involved in propaganda against us."

Imran said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had also conducted an inquiry against Naqvi and he had returned Rs3.5 million. He said that as opposed to the candidates given by the government, PTI had given “neutral candidates” with good reputations.

The former PM said that the current regime wanted to silence him, therefore, it was taking steps against his party. "What had Azam Swati done? What he tweeted was his opinion. They stripped him naked. Made an objectionable video of him," he added.

"I do not fear jail. I fear nothing. I have seen death very closely. I believe in the almighty. I also ask others not to be afraid of prison," he said and added that till the last day he is alive, he will keep fighting for the country.

Talking about journalist Arshad Sharif's murder, Imran said that every kid in Pakistan knows he was the “most credible journalist in Pakistan”.

"I will fight till the last ball… I will fight against them till my last breath. I never fear jail. I am a free person [and] I will never accept slavery."

‘JIT being reconstituted’

He also alleged that Naqvi and the PML-N were reconstituting the JIT (joint investigation team) probing the assassination attempt against him in Wazirabad. “I can only hope for justice if the JIT has been formed under the supervision of the chief justice himself.”

The PTI chairman said JIT members were being pressurised to distance themselves from the probe because it would have established the conspiracy for assassinating him.

“Unfortunately, we cannot find the killers of Liaquat Ali Khan and Benazir Bhutto because those responsible for these incidents are powerful. Being a former prime minister and having government in the province, I could not register an FIR in my case,” he lamented.

Imran reiterated that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif were involved in the assassination attempt on his life. “That’s why they are trying to cover up by manipulating the investigation and reshuffling the investigation team.”

Meanwhile, in the wee hours of Wednesday, a number of PTI supporters gathered outside the former premier’s Zaman Park residence after party leaders claimed that the government had formed plans to arrest Imran Khan.

Speculations were rife in the PTI camp that the police were going to detain Imran. A large number of the party leaders, including Fawad and Farrukh Habib, and workers rushed to Imran’s residence and staged a protest.

The charged-up workers vowed to defend their leader at all costs, asserting their resolve to remain vigilant outside the residence to resist any attempt to detain their leader.

Moreover, following Fawad’s arrest, Imran summoned the senior party leaders to discuss a response strategy to the current situation. A potentiality of his own threat also came under discussion.

As per the sources, the PTI chief told the party leaders that the “imported government” could never arrest him as “220 million people were standing with PTI”.

“Since the coalition rulers were also facing court cases, they would not arrest me,” he added.

To pre-empt the alleged plan to arrest the former premier, the meeting decided that the part workers would remain camped outside Imran’s residence and would take turns in two shifts.

In the first shift, workers from different towns of Lahore would perform their duties while in the second shift, workers from other districts, including Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Nankana Sahib, Kasur, Okara and Gujarat, would guard the residence.

The PTI also decided to hold a nationwide protest against the arrest of the PTI leader and the government’s vindictive actions.

Meanwhile, during his televised address, the former premier said that there were two segments in Pakistani society and the interests of one, which was in minority, did not align with the country's interests.

"There are two segments of Pakistani society. One is corrupt and loots everything. They flee the country when it is in trouble. The stake of this segment is not aligned with Pakistan. But there is another segment which is in majority and its life depends on Pakistan."

Imran said that he thought that the institutions will never back those who have nothing to do with this country. "But unfortunately they backed those who ousted our government. Just Google what our own institutions brought to the fore against these people," he added.

Criticising the government for making a mess of the economy, Imran said that the way it is being handled, the system will stop working entirely.

"During our tenure, wheat was Rs75 today it is Rs135. Petrol and Diesel prices are low in international market today as compared to our tenure and more inflation is coming your way."

The PTI chief said that Pakistan never had such financial woes as it is going through these days. However, he added the rulers were busy eliminating their corruption cases.

"Ask anyone, businessmen or salaried person how he is managing. Pakistan has system of oppression and injustice and we have to do jihad against it," he said.


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