KARAK/ DERA ISMAIL KHAN:
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan opened his election campaign on Sunday with the tantalising promise of bringing peace to the troubled tribal area of Waziristan through a series of measures precipitated in part by a withdrawal of troops from there.
Once Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf comes to power, Imran told thousands of ecstatic party supporters at a rally in Dera Ismail Khan that he would order a pullout of forces from the tribal area.
“The prime minister of naya Pakistan will not be a slave to anyone,” the PTI leader told the rally -- his second in the course of a day.
Acknowledging that at present there wasn’t anyone to speak for the people of Waziristan, Imran said his party would make accountable all those who had inflicted cruelty upon the people of Waziristan.
“The money that is spent on the war in the tribal areas will be spent on the welfare of the people,” he said. PTI, according to him, will provide employment and education to the populace of the tribal belt and carry out development work there.
Elaborating on his peace building plan, Imran said his party intended to carry out negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, who, he claimed, were from amongst the nation.
Imran made an impassioned plea to the youth to support his party. Together with your support, he told them, we will oust all “political thieves” from the country.
“There is no difference between Nawaz, Zardari, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Asfandyar Wali,” Imran said. “These politicians took their turns and did nothing for the people. Instead, they filled their pockets with money.”
Imran reminded the gathering of politicians’ practice of buying votes for cash.
“When they offer you money, you must take it from them, as it is yours. But you must cast your ballot in PTI’s favour so that we can build a naya Pakistan together,” Imran said.
Speaking about his political campaign, Imran said that he is taking his party’s message of change around the country, so that people know the urgency with which it is needed.
Earlier, at a separate rally in Karak, the PTI chief said that his party is among the very few who have given 250 party tickets to those belonging to the age of 40 and below and 80% have never been part of parliament before.
“On the night of May 11, the nation will reject the politics of opportunism and flattery and vote for people who are truly among them,” he said.
Imran promised that his party would help end class differences between rich and power, and would install one education system in the country.
“Due to a uniform education system, the lower class will get an opportunity to rise,” he said.
The PTI chief also had a novel development plan for Karak district. After much insistence from local party leaders, Imran announced that his party would offer royalty rates for oil and gas exploration to Karak as the ones the government is currently offering Balochistan.
Karak, despite having sufficient gas reserves, does not have access to the natural resource. People of the area are unhappy with the government for not building an oil refinery in the district.
The gathering was attended by thousands of people from Lakki Marwat, Kohat, Bannu and suburbs of Karak, including Takhte Nasrati and Banda Daud Shah. Though the rally was held at a sensitive location, there was a small security presence for the PTI leader’s protection.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2013.