PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that he has asked his party to begin preparations for marching to Islamabad.
Addressing a press conference at his Bani Gala residence — his first since his ouster — he said he would announce the date for the march later but directed party leaders, including at the village level, to prepare for the march for “true freedom”.
A huge sea of people would go towards the capital, he said, adding that he had never seen such political awareness among the people.
“People have begun to understand the joke that happened with them and the kind of people placed on us (as rulers),” he said, claiming that there was an unprecedented number of “criminals” and those who were out on bail in the newly formed federal cabinet.
He also said the party would hold prayers on the 27th of Ramazan for the march’s success.
Imran said it had become clear that his claim of foreign conspiracy was “true”. The National Security Committee (NSC) had also confirmed that the minutes of the body’s meeting last month when he was the premier were “correct”, he added.
A day earlier, a statement issued after the NSC meeting said it discussed the telegram received from the ambassador in Washington — which was first brandished by Imran at the PTI’s rally on March 27 — and “reaffirmed the decisions of the last NSC meeting”.
However, the meeting concluded that “there has been no foreign conspiracy”, according to the statement.
In his press conference today, Imran said yesterday’s NSC meeting had “confirmed that the cable was genuine and the conversation with [US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia] Donald Lu was real”.
“The language used [in the cable] was undiplomatic. I will say it was arrogance.”
Terming the threat a “shameful” thing for the country, he said former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and military ruler Pervez Musharraf had also received threats. “When a nation bows down before such threats and such conspiracies are successful, no one should have any doubts,” he added.
“We all saw the spectacle after the no-confidence resolution was tabled — our allies suddenly started speaking up and our MNAs also remembered that the situation was not good.”
The former premier said he wanted to clarify the country’s economic situation at the time of his ouster. The current account deficit was the lowest in 11 years, remittances and exports had reached new records, tax collection was at a historic level and five crops saw highest production, he stated.
“Then, this conspiracy was done against us and now, reserves are going down and the rupee is under pressure,” he added.
‘Open hearing’ on cable
The Supreme Court should have ordered an investigation into the “cable” instead of setting aside the National Assembly deputy speaker’s decision to dismiss the no-confidence resolution and the subsequent dissolution of the NA, Imran said.
He said he wanted the apex court to hold an open hearing on the matter, terming it a big attack against the country’s sovereignty and independence.
“If you don’t do this, no prime minister will be able to withstand such threats and will fold his hands when foreign countries pressure [on matters] against the national interest.”
If the Supreme Court ordered an investigation, it would become known which political leaders visited foreign embassies and their role in calling PTI lawmakers who were unhappy with the party, he said.
The “conspiracy” had become the greatest danger to Pakistan’s democracy, he said, warning that “our children’s future will be in danger if our institutions don’t stand up.”
Talking about the no-confidence vote, the former premier questioned whether the way “people sold their consciences and committed treachery with democracy” ahead of the vote was not important enough for the SC and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold daily hearings.
“I am shocked that the SC and ECP are not taking [action] urgently.”
Referring to the SC’s hearings on the presidential reference seeking its interpretation of Article 63-A, which is related to the disqualification of lawmakers over defection, Imran said the Article was important because if no action was taken against those who “participated” in the “foreign conspiracy”, it would open the doors for similar incidents in the future.
During his presser, Imran also called for Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja’s resignation, saying the party believed him to be “biased”.
The PTI did not trust the CEC because all his decisions were against the party, he added.
Imran said he was not afraid of his name being put on the Exit Control List (ECL) because he did not want to go abroad.
Criticism of new govt
Imran also lashed out at the new coalition government, terming them “shameless”. The former opposition parties used to call each other thieves and robbers but were now part of the new government, he said.
“Nobody other than their family is seen, meaning that no one else is qualified,” he said, referring to Shehbaz Sharif’s election as prime minister and his son Hamza’s election as Punjab chief minister.
“Both father and son are on bail. Could they not find someone else? What is a bigger conspiracy than the country being handed over to such people?” he asked.
He advised PM Shehbaz to “ask for forgiveness” since it had been proven that the cable was real.
He claimed that the new government did not want to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general elections because they were opposed to free and fair polls.