LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has said that his party will accept the proposed judicial commission only if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif steps down first. At the same time, he also warned that any attempt to stop the Azadi march will be suicidal for the government.
The PTI will accept the judicial commission only if Nawaz Sharif resigns as prime minister and installs a caretaker setup to conduct an independent audit of the 2013 general elections, Imran told a news conference at his residence in Zaman Town. The news conference came minutes after the prime minister offered a judicial inquiry into the complaints of election rigging.
“Forming the judicial commission will be a futile exercise as long as Nawaz is in power because they [the Sharif brothers] have a history of purchasing the loyalties of every one,” Imran said.
Before addressing the news conference, the PTI chairman travelled in a caravan of his supporters to the Data Darbar shrine to seek blessings of the popular Sufi saint. Hundreds of PTI activists have been encamped outside the residence of Imran Khan since Monday night. It’s carnival atmosphere as more and more PTI workers are joining their colleagues in the buildup to the Azadi march scheduled for August 14.
Unrelenting in his criticism of the Sharif family, the PTI chairman alleged that they [the Sharif brothers] had done massive corruption during their 14-month rule. He further alleged that the Sharif family has its man in the Turkish company that was making investments in Punjab.
He accused the Sharif family of buying the loyalties of government functionaries in all departments, including civilian bureaucracy, police and the judiciary. “Those who refuse to submit have to face threats and are compelled to flee the country,” he added.
He alleged that Nawaz’s son had established a company, namely Flagship, which has assets worth Rs50 billion. They also own a flat worth Rs6 billion in Mayfair, in the UK, he alleged and drew parallels between the sons of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of Libya and those of Nawaz Sharif.
“I’ve no personal feud with Nawaz Sharif. It’s a war between two ideologies. It’s monarchy vs democracy,” he added. Imran said he would first offer himself for accountability but Nawaz didn’t like such accountability.
The PTI chairman reiterated his allegations that the PML-N in connivance with the Election Commission of Pakistan had printed millions of forged ballots before the elections. He questioned that how could PML-N’s vote-bank increase unbelievably in the 2013 elections despite years of bad governance in the province.
He said that Nawaz didn’t bother to listen to the speech of his interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who had conceded on the floor of the National Assembly that 60 to 70 thousand votes in each constituency were unverified, Imran said.
Speaking about the Azadi march, Imran reiterated that it would be peaceful. However, he warned that if the government tried to stop the marchers it would ‘dig its own grave’. “I’ve reports that the PML-N would send the likes of Gullu Butt in police uniform to sabotage our peaceful protest,” he said and requested the Punjab police chief to take action against such miscreants.
Imran also claimed that 1,500 PTI workers coming from Sindh had been stopped on the Punjab border. Nonetheless, he pledged that PTI workers would reach Islamabad at any cost. “We’ll stay in Islamabad till the time all of our democratic demands are accepted,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th,2014.