Living up to his promise, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan set alight his electricity bill on Friday as part of his civil disobedience campaign against the government while citing its failure to curb rampant power theft despite raising tariffs by 80% in a year.
“I will travel to Karachi on Saturday to convince the people to burn their utility bills,” Imran said while addressing thousands of his supporters from atop his custom-built container at D-Chowk hours after the joint session of parliament pledged to support the democratic process. At the venue, hundreds of PTI workers also set their bills on fire.
There was a visible increase in the deployment of police force at D-Chowk which triggered speculation that the government might crack down on participants to smash the 36-day-long Dharna. The fears were in the air, clearly perceivable.
Criticising the prime minister’s speech on the last day of the joint sitting of parliament, the PTI chairman jeered at Nawaz Sharif for comparing himself with the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. “There is a huge of difference between Nawaz Sharif and Muhammad Ali Jinaah. Nawaz Sharif, you should be ashamed of yourself when you compare yourself with the Quaid-e-Azam. The Quaid never told lies. The Quaid never evaded taxes and he always disclosed his assets,” Imran said.
He called upon his supporters to stand up to the ‘tyrant’ and fight against tyranny. “We’re here for this cause and I’m standing here to fight,” he said.
Imran said that the PML-N staged a rally on Friday in the capital city of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – where the PTI is in power – but no one placed shipping containers on the roads to thwart the rally because the provincial government believes it was a democratic right of the people to protest. “But the chorus of ‘Go Nawaz, Go’ was heard in that rally too,” he said, adding that the federal government was using the police force against protesters in Islamabad.
An accountability court on Friday acquitted the Sharif brothers in a money laundering reference. The PTI chairman said this was bound to happen because the NAB chief had been appointed by the prime minister in connivance with the opposition leader in the National Assembly, who himself was facing corruption charges. “In a week you will hear that Syed Khursheed Shah has also been acquitted in the corruption cases,” he said.
The PTI leader said if his party came to power, all graft cases against corrupt politicians, including Khursheed Shah and the Sharif family, would be reopened. He heaped criticism on the PML-N government in Punjab and asked what they have done for the poor people in “their 30-year tenure”.
To substantiate his claims of massive rigging in the 2013 elections, Imran said that two more judges have given verdict exposing rigging in PP-136 and PP-107. In PP-136, the judge termed the role of the returning officer ‘shameful’, as 80% polling stations in the constituency were rigged. About the prime minister’s claim that all but one issue with the PTI had been settled, Imran said that the government was lying. “We know if we end our sit-in, the government will renege on its commitment and will refuse to implement any of our demands,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2014.