Imran presents PTI’s roadmap to economic prosperity at Lahore rally

PTI chief says country needs difficult decisions to be made to revamp governance and increase exports

News Desk March 25, 2023
PTI chief Imran Khan is addressing his supporters from inside his bullet-proof cabin during his party's rally at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore on March 25-26, 2023. SCREENGRAB

Imran Khan, former prime minister and chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), presented his party's roadmap for economic prosperity at a public rally at Lahore's Minar-e-Pakistan on Saturday night.

He emphasised that the country needs difficult decisions to be made to revamp governance and increase exports.

Khan pointed out that Pakistan doesn't collect sufficient taxes, resulting in an outflow of dollars that exceeds the inflow. He said that if exports increase, the inflow of dollars would also increase. He also urged the need for a complete revamp of governance to achieve economic prosperity.

The deposed premier stated that a "surgery" was needed in Pakistan to put the house in order, and if that were done, overseas Pakistanis would bring their dollars to the country. He suggested incentivising overseas Pakistanis to invest and proposed VIP status for exporters.

The PTI chief highlighted the IT and tourism sectors' growth during his party’s tenure and emphasised increasing productivity in the agriculture sector. He also proposed restructuring all government corporations, including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

According to Khan, only 2.5 million Pakistanis out of 220 million people pay taxes. He stressed the need to increase the tax base to achieve progress, and PTI collected record taxes during its tenure. Khan also said that the PTI government introduced health cards, which the current government has stopped, but his party would revive the initiative.

Khan proposed giving loans to young people to start businesses and reviving the mortgage scheme, which the PTI government introduced for the first time in Pakistan's history.

The former prime minister said the PTI's focus is to target poor people and provide them with ration, a program that Sania Nishtar had introduced.

At the start of his speech, Imran said that he was going to give a programme today to get the country out of its prevailing crises.

"One thing is clear, whoever is in power, they will get a message today that people's passion cannot be curbed via hurdles and containers," he said, adding that around 2,000 PTI workers have been put behind bars only to create hurdles for today’s rally.

Holding the incumbent rulers responsible for the current situation of the country, he questioned did our ancestors give sacrifices for this Pakistan?

He said that level playing field does not mean that tie Imran Khan's hands and give others all the facilities but it means to give an equal opportunity to all.

"I have completed a century of cases, I might even cross 150. I have 40 terrorism cases registered against my name. Poor spend their entire life fighting false cases in this country," he added.

He said that in Sindh, on one cannot stand up against the influential. "They call it Zardari system."

Imran said that the ‘real freedom’ will only come if rule of law prevails in the country.

Imran said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was begging around the world but still was getting no reprieve.

"[General (retd)] Bajwa says he used to scold him (Shehbaz) for 40 minutes and he used to listen without uttering a word," he said, adding that, “this is what happens when you come to power through backdoor”.

Imran Khan said that police have picked up around 2,000 PTI workers ahead of this rally. "Dr Rubina was in her clinic when they picked her from there," he added.

He said that PDM staged three long marches during PTI's tenure but we created no hurdles in their way. "I even said I will make arrangements for their dinner."

He said that PTI took permission for a rally on March 8 to start its election campaign from Zaman Park. "But we suddenly got news that police started baton-charge and [tear gas] shelling. They only wanted to create chaos. I called off the rally because I did not want bloodshed."

Imran Khan said that Zille Shah bore 26 torture marks and his body was thrown away on the road. "Who murdered him? They should be punished as per law even though my heart calls for other means."

He said that police came to arrest him with an arrest warrant on March 14 despite him having a bail from court.

"I told them I have bail. Police said they wanted to take me to Islamabad. I gave surety bond that I will appear before Islamabad court. They did not take my surety bond. They attacked my house from three sides. They used tear gas shells, they used pellets. For the first time in my life I felt what people in Palestine and Kashmir feel. "

He said that people supported him during the clash because they knew Imran Khan was right. "Will the nation accept that Imran Khan is a terrorist? They know me for the past 40 years."

"Zardari who in memogate pleaded that save me from my army is now making decisions of this country. The person behind Dawn leaks Nawaz Sharif is making decisions. And they have made Imran Khan whose everything is in Pakistan a traitor."

Imran said that despite Supreme Court's orders, the Election Commission of Pakistan has delayed the elections for Punjab Assembly. "How can ECP delay holding elections till October? It says it does not have money... what are you going to get by October as the country is defaulting," he added.

The former prime minister said they have a one-point agenda which is to stop Imran Khan from winning the elections.

'Threat alert'

According to a warning issued by Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Mukarram Khurasani had planned a terrorist attack on Minar-e-Pakistan rally.

The terrorist group can target PTI's gatherings, rallies, and the Minar-e-Pakistan public rally to create chaos in the country, it added.

The department stated that Khurasani devised the plan after consultation with terrorist Abdul Wali Khan, adding that the terrorists have planned attacks using "25 suicide bombers".

It further said that Abdul Wali Khan has been involved in multiple bombings in Lahore in the past.

The authorities have been urged to increase security measures, as terrorists may also target important installations and officers in uniforms.

Qureshi accuses govt of arresting workers

Meanwhile, speaking to the media, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi accused the government of arresting party workers ahead of the rally.

The former foreign minister said that despite the Lahore High Court's order allowing a political gathering, the caretaker government had blocked all roads leading to the rally venue by placing containers and barricades to create hurdles for PTI workers, supporters, and the general public.

Read more: Imran urges people to exercise 'fundamental right', attend Minar-e-Pakistan rally

Qureshi claimed that police were conducting raids and arresting PTI leaders, stating that 1,800 workers had been arrested so far. He urged them not to arm themselves with sticks or other weapons, refrain from violence, and advised them not to take the law into their own hands.

Qureshi emphasised that holding the public rally was the party's constitutional right and expressed confidence that a large number of people would participate in tonight's political gathering.

Imran urges people to attend rally

Imran Khan, while taking to Twitter, urged people to attend the rally tonight saying that it is the “fundamental right” of the people of Pakistan to attend a political rally.

The former prime minister said that his heart tells him that the rally will "break all records”.

Also read: Qureshi accuses govt of arresting workers ahead of Minar-e-Pakistan rally

“I am inviting everyone in Lahore to attend after Tarawih prayers. I will give my vision of Haqeeqi Azadi and how we will pull Pakistan out of the mess cabal of crooks have put our country in,” he added.

The deposed premier feared that the government “will put all sorts of hurdles to prevent people from attending, but I want to remind our people that it is their fundamental right to attend a political gathering”.

“Everyone must assert their right as people of a free nation that won its independence and come to Minar-e-Pakistan,” he stated.

Containers block routes to Minar-e-Pakistan

Earlier in the day, the local administration of Lahore placed containers to block the routes leading to Minar-e-Pakistan. Containers have also been placed in other areas of Lahore, including GT Road, Cup Store and Du Maurya Bridge.

The administration and police have taken the step to block PTI supporters from other towns and cities in Punjab from reaching the rally venue.

The PTI leadership has alleged that the police have detained the party's leaders and workers, saying that raids on the houses of PTI workers and leaders have been ongoing for five consecutive days.

However, they said that despite the "tactics of the police and administration", the rally will definitely take place today.

Police raided the residence of PTI leaders Hammad Khan Niazi and Bajash Khan Niazi in the Manawan area but could not arrest the two leaders as they were not present at home at the time of the raid.

Hammad vowed that the rally in Lahore today will be a historical one. “We will not be intimidated by such measures [raids by police]” and said that they would stand by Imran Khan till their last breath.


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