The former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan urged the judiciary and ‘neutrals’ to “do the right thing” after the government launched a crackdown on PTI workers to thwart their Azadi march to Islamabad.
During a press conference in Peshawar, he slammed the government and described its crackdown on PTI workers as “akin to what dictators do.”
Earlier, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah announced that the federal cabinet had decided it would not allow the PTI to hold its planned long march to Islamabad on May 25.
Punjab police cracked down on his party workers, arresting over 400 leaders and workers on Monday.
A policeman was also killed during a raid in Lahore, for which the government and PTI are trading blame.
During a press conference, Imran Khan announced that he would lead the biggest procession in Pakistan’s history tomorrow.
— PTI (@PTIofficial) May 24, 2022
He also lashed out at the government for conducting late-night raids and barging into innocent citizens’ homes. He asked the government to highlight any instance in the past where he had ever broken the law.
The PTI chairman added that during his government’s tenure, the opposition was allowed to stage protests and long marches several times. He said we did not arrest Bilawal Bhutto or Fazlur Rehman when they marched to ouster the government.
He said that the country was looking towards the judiciary, telling them that this was their “trial.” He asked the judges whether they would allow such harassment and raids. “The country is going to look at your decisions. If you allow this, then the judiciary’s credibility will cease to exist. It would mean that there is no democracy in Pakistan.”
Khan asserted that the long march was a peaceful protest and the party’s democratic right. He said the PTI had a right to stage a protest against the “imported conspiracy.”
Imran said this was a “defining moment for the country” that would decide its fate. He asserted that there was no difference between the “fascist government” and the past military dictators, saying that both used the same tactics.
“I want to thank the lawyers of the country who are standing to protect the democracy of the country. But the bar associations that are not issuing condemnations, the nation is looking at you. Are you standing with the government?” Khan said.
He reiterated that “staying neutral” was no longer an option. “You have to decide which side you are standing on. God has not given us permission to walk in the middle, that means that you are helping the criminals.”
He said “those who call themselves neutral” had taken an oath to protect the country’s independence and sovereignty. “You need to understand that the public is looking at you. You will be equally responsible if the country goes towards destruction.”
He asserted that the only solution was to conduct early elections; otherwise, the country would be headed down the path of Sri Lanka.
The government wasn’t interested in serving the country and only wanted to end its corruption cases. “Therefore, I want to give a message to everyone: Neutrals and lawyers, this is a defining moment.”