Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Sunday his ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ would start in the next few days, revealing that “a large number of party workers and supporters had already registered themselves” for courting arrest.
Addressing his supporters via a video link from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, the former prime minister fired a broadside against former army chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, accusing him of being responsible for the country’s current predicament.
Imran reiterated that the country could not progress without the establishment of the rule of law and everyone would have to obey the Constitution. He stressed that free and fair elections would be the first step towards pulling the country out of the current economic quagmire.
“The preparation for this peaceful agitation campaign [Jail Bharo Tehreek] is under way. A large number of party workers and supporters have already registered themselves for the movement,” Imran said.
Contrary to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) parties’ struggle of personal gains, Imran said, the PTI was fighting for real independence of Pakistan. He added that he sacrificed his two provincial governments for the sake of Pakistan.
The PTI chief emphasised that everywhere in the world, whoever took important decisions also took the responsibility of his actions. Unfortunately, Imran said, “criticism of the top military brass is not allowed and no one can question their actions”.
“We have lost bargaining position in negotiations with the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. All sectors of the economy have been badly hit by the decisions of one person but he [former army chief Gen (retd) Bajwa] is not answerable for his decisions,” he said.
Imran claimed that Gen (retd) Bajwa used to call the shots, while he, as the prime minister, was at the receiving end of all the criticism. “He was a super king. He was above everyone. He was controlling NAB [National Accountability Bureau (NAB)] and no one could be held accountable without Bajwa’s nod.”
“I was the punching bag while they [the establishment] had the absolute power. Bajwa took credit of all good things, while we were blamed for everything that went wrong,” he said. “The money laundering case against Shehbaz Sharif could not proceed because Bajwa did not want it,” he said.
Referring to a recent article based on the former army chief’s interview, Imran said everyone already knew that the former army chief had toppled his government but “I did not expect that he would have admitted to this”.
The PTI chairman also came down hard on the current coalition government. “Those who have been imposed on Pakistan through a conspiracy are running away from elections because they are afraid of the PTI,” Imran continued.
“But they should know that whenever elections are held the result will remain the same. All their attempts to weaken the PTI will fail because the people of Pakistan have recognised their faces and objectives,” he said.
Imran hailed the judiciary on behalf of the nation and asked the people to get ready to stand with the judiciary for the establishment of the rule of law in the county, alleging that pressure was being exerted on courts to get favourable decisions.
He claimed that the current rulers had the “habit” of pressurising, blackmailing or attacking the judiciary to get decisions in their favour because an independent judiciary did not suit them. At present, he added, “for the first time, the doctrine of necessity is not at play”.
As per the Constitution, the PTI chief said, elections should not go beyond 90 days after the dissolution of assemblies. “On the 91st day, these caretaker governments will become unconstitutional. Civil servants and police should not obey the decisions of the caretakers after that period,” he added.
Imran also made the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) target of his trenchant criticism. He said that the role of the polls supervisor was very shameful. “It is not making decisions independently but in consultation with its handlers,” he charged.
Earlier in an interview with Voice of America, Imran blamed “negligence” of the security forces for the resurgence of terrorism in the country. He also stressed the need for improving ties with Afghanistan to ensure cooperation between the two countries.
“Whatever government is in Afghanistan, Pakistan must have a good relationship with them. I tried my best with the Ghani government … we have a 2,500-kilometer border with them, which means that if there are problems of terrorism, then they will help us,” Imran said.
Taking a dig at Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for not paying even a single visit to Afghanistan so far, Imran said: “I think we are not in a position to have another war on terror. And the only way is to somehow get Kabul to work with us so that we can jointly deal with this issue.”
On the ouster of his government, the PTI chief said that the new military leadership had realised that the “experiment of regime change has failed”.
“I’m sure amongst the new military leadership there is a realisation that this experiment of regime change has gone wrong,” he said.
When asked about the Uyghur Muslims of China, Imran said that a prime minister’s main responsibility “is his own people. About Ukraine war, he also said: “We decided to stay neutral. India decided to stay neutral, biggest strategic partner of the US.”
During the interview, the former prime minister also spoke about his allegations of the US involvement in a “conspiracy” that ultimately led to his ouster. He said that based on the information he had received, he no longer held Washington to have planned to topple his government.