Lahore: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday instructed his workers and supporters to prepare for the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (fill the prison movement) against the federal government for inflicting custodial torture on his party leaders and delay in announcing fresh general elections.
The ousted prime minister made these comments during his television address from his Zaman Park residence on Saturday.
It comes days after sedition cases were filed against his party’s Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry and former member of National Assembly Shandana Gulzar.
”I ask the people to get ready and wait for my call for ‘jail bharo tehreek’. There will not be that much space in Pakistani jails to have them all,” Khan said.
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He said that if the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led government and their handlers in the military establishment think that ”we will be frightened by harassment and custodial torture, they are seriously mistaken.” ”Wait for my call…when I will give you the signal to fill jails. I know the jails will choke as they don’t have that much capacity,” the 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician asserted.
Chaudhry, a close aide of Khan, was arrested from his residence in Lahore last week in a pre-dawn raid after a case was registered against him at Islamabad’s Kohsar Police Station on the complaint of the Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan for ”threatening” the electoral body’s members and their families.
Meanwhile, Gulzar, who was elected from a reserved women’s seat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was booked for ”inciting violence against constitutional institutions of the country”.
“Fawad Chaudhry was picked up from home at 3am. What did Shandana Gulzar do that made her a terrorist. As the court gives bail to Sheikh Rashid, more cases are being filed against him,” Khan said.
In his fiery address, the deposed prime minister said his party could have opted for a nationwide strike.
Instead, they will choose to fill the prisons instead in light of the fears that the country’s economy might deteriorate further, he said.
“We have two options: Considering what they have been doing, we could have gone for a wheel-jam strike and demonstrations — which is also a way and a democratic one,” Khan explained.
”But since the state of the economy is so bad, it will worsen. Therefore, I ask all my workers, the Pakistani nation and everyone to prepare for the Jail Bharo movement,” he said.
Khan lamented that Pakistan under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was heading towards the law of the jungle, where “might is right.” Khan said the plan of the “imported government” was to get him disqualified and then announce the dates for elections.
”We dissolved governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces over two weeks but the incumbent rulers with the help of Election Commission of Pakistan are trying their best to delay the elections which have to be held under 90 days under the Constitution (after dissolution of the assemblies). The rulers fear that they will badly lose, that is why they don’t want polls now,” he said.
Khan said there are 60 FIRs against him and once the incumbent government and its handlers make sure that he is sidelined (disqualified in any case), they will call the ”12th player” (Nawaz Sharif) from London to win the polls.
Khan exhorted the judiciary to protect the rights of the people.
”Every Pakistani is looking up to the judiciary to protect their fundamental rights. Save the country from becoming a banana republic and ensure rule of law,” he urged.
The PTI chief tore into Prime Minister Sharif for the country’s economic woes and the devaluation of the Pakistani rupee, saying it will only lead to unprecedented inflation levels.
Pakistan’s central bank said on Friday that its foreign exchange reserves have dropped by 16.1 per cent to USD 3.09 billion at the end of the last fiscal week, the lowest in nearly 10 years.
In November last year, Khan was forced to suspend his long march to Islamabad following an assassination attempt on him.
Previously in May last year, Khan abruptly called off the ”Azadi Rally,” moments after his party workers arrived at the federal capital.
Khan, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022.
Since his ouster, he has stepped up the ante on the ruling coalition to announce snap polls.