Farhat Abbas

SARGODHA – Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan appeared resolute in bringing about his promised revolution as he sought to hit back at the critics of his fast-growing party, reiterating he will take “two wickets on one ball” – an allusion he makes to predict defeat of the two major political players, PPP and PML-N.

“Change is not far, it’s coming and coming soon! I tell those saying PTI lacks roots in masses and fizzle out soon, Tehreek-i-Insaf is destined to sweep the whole country and will be more successful in the rural Pakistan,” said Imran in a retort to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s statement regarding PTI’s confinement to urban areas.

“They say PTI is a party popular only in urban Pakistan. But you tell me, has there ever been this big a rally in Bhalwal?” Imran asked thousands of supporters gathered in this small town in Sargodha on Sunday, who responded with a cheer of ‘no’. “Do the rural people not want justice? They do. Injustice in Pakistan’s rural areas is worse than that in urban areas,” he said. “This PTI tsunami will be even more successful in rural areas because it is the harbinger of change, of Pakistan’s transformation.”

Picking on PML-N, who Imran has categorically refused to ally with, he said Nawaz Sharif was a hypocrite who never raised a finger at President Asif Ali Zardari or questioned him about the billions of stolen rupees, while they both were savouring roasted pheasants for breakfast together.

He said that he saw right through Nawaz Sharif’s stance on the government’s refusal to write to Swiss authorities under the Supreme Court’s National Reconciliation Ordinance order. “Mian Sab, tell me one thing: how did you suddenly realise that the amount in Swiss banks is looted from the people of Pakistan? Three years, you (PML-N and PPP) were ruling together. You were brothers. Was this not looted money then?” he questioned. Imran then drove his point home by quoting former US President Abraham Lincoln’s famous lines: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”.

He said that Punjab is their (PML-N) responsibility where they are governing for the fifth time but they have failed so miserably that they couldn’t even administer proper examinations for students. “Is Punjab doing any better than the rest of the provinces? No, it isn’t. Look at your tenure from 25 years ago and compare it with the current situation. You have destroyed Punjab.”

Responding to Gilani’s statement that PTI does not have any concrete agenda, Imran said his party’s agenda was far better than the ruling party’s which has brought the country on the brink of disaster. “First of all, Mr prime minister, I would like to tell you that even if we don’t have an agenda right now, it will be better than yours. Even if we fail to deliver on our promises, we will end up doing a better job than you,” he said.

These parties, he said, say that Pakistan’s problems cannot be solved. “But I say they can be easily resolved. We are a well-endowed country.

There are so many bright and competent Pakistanis who must be appointed at the right places.

They should head Wapda, PIA and Pakistan Railways. All appointments must be made on merit.” Justice, he said, is when merit is given priority over all else.

“The reason these parties cannot bring about any change is because they are part of the problem, not the solution,” Imran said. “Their time is up and the days of their rule are gone.” Imran once again lamented the sorry plight of Pakistan, where the poor were cursed to remain poor under the oppression of those powerful who were holding the helms of this country for ages, which, he said would end for good as a “change” was imminent. Country was rife with corruption, which, according to Imran, PTI would eradicate in record time.

He vowed to empower the farmers with free fertilisers, seed, and subsidies, so that average production could be brought at least at par with India. He said, “Our farmer toils all year long, but his labours never bear fruit which he can pick, the feudal lords always take what is rightfully his.” Further speaking about how his party prioritises rural farmers as those who need justice the most, he said that because of a mafia, a poor farmer who produces sugarcane is paid 30 per cent less than he deserves for his labour and production.

“Why does Indian Punjab produce double than Pakistani Punjab? They have the same weather and land conditions. Because the Indian government supports them by providing them with seeds, fertiliser and free electricity.” This, he said, is his party’s vision for the farmers of Punjab. “We can earn an additional 300 billion rupees. And PTI will make all this available for farmers. Our primary concern will be the weak.”

Earlier, former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other party leaders delivered their speeches. On the occasion, prominent political Paracha family and over a dozen other important political figures, including former Senator Mehr Khudadad Khan Luc, former Punjab minister Muhammad Khan Jaspal and his son Naeem Jaspal, and former Punjab minister Mehr Dastgeer Khan Luc announced to join the PTI.