‘Arrests’ can’t stop PTI move for ‘real freedom’, says Imran

ISLAMABAD – Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan on Tuesday again lashed out at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for his alleged partisan role by accusing it of helping Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz to retain his position by not notifying lawmakers on five reserved seats of the provincial assembly.

Addressing a group of lawyers at his residence in Bani Gala, Khan alleged that the Election Commission in principle should have notified members on these reserved seats soon after it had de-seated five PTI lawmakers of Punjab Assembly on charges of defection for voting in favour of CM Hamza.

In categorical terms, Imran Khan said come what may his party’s movement for “real freedom” would not stop until the coalition government led by PML-N announced the date of early elections.

“They [government] are trying to put me behind bars on trumped-up charges so that this movement could be stopped,” he said.

He accused that the ECP was not doing this because it knew that the chief minister Punjab would lose the majority if MPAs (members of provincial assembly) on these seats were notified. “The constitution is being violated,” he said and questioned in which Constitution this has been stated that reserved seats would be filled after a by-election?

Earlier this month, the ECP had said that it would notify MPAs on five reserved seats after by-election on 20 seats of Punjab Assembly. PTI insists that the Commission should notify the names of new lawmakers from the party list as these seats belonged to it.

Last month, the commission had de-seated 25 dissident MPAs of PTI including five MPAs on reserved seats on charges of crossing the floor during the election of chief minister Punjab.

Former prime minister Khan in his address once again accused the Election Commission for being an accomplice of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the latter’s ongoing planning to rig the next election to ensure its victory in Punjab. He said that manipulation was being made through delimitation of constituencies. He claimed that the ruling party knew well that it could not win the election and this was the reason that it wanted to rig the general election with the help of ECP.

Khan stressed that it were the courts and the legal fraternity who have to ensure rule of law in the country. “You have to stand up for the rule of law. He accused the ruling coalition for rising inflation and recent hike in fuel, electricity and gas prices. Such a hike was never witnessed in the country’s history, he added. After they (ruling coalition) seized power, the country’s economy plunged into the negative”.

The PTI chairman said the “incumbent government was imposed on us through a conspiracy” and that was why his party was protesting. He told the gathering that this was a ”decisive” time for the Pakistani nation.

Khan criticised the coalition government and said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son,  Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz, were about to be “convicted”.

He said that the country’s credit rating had fallen which means that the international lenders would not give it loans.

He alleged that the ruling coalition has become a national security for the country. He claimed that the government wanted to arrest him to end his movement of “Haqiqi Azadi.” He asked his supporters to be ready as they would not end this movement until the announcement of a fair and transparent election.

He demanded that the government should take strict notice of blasphemous remarks made against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by leaders of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and order banning of Indian products in Pakistan.

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