Imran urges CJP to ‘save nation’ as PTI long march resumes in Wazirabad

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan, addressing supporters as the party’s long march resumed from Wazirabad a week after he was attacked, said that the “plan” to assassinate him was first formulated in September which Imran said he had “unearthed in a public rally on September 24”.

According to Imran Khan, all eyes are on the top court now as the nation has “lost trust” in the institutions, saying that Pakistan is becoming a banana republic.

“You [Supreme Court’s chief justice] have to save the country. The nation has lost trust in institutions. You have to fix this as the country doesn’t work without institutions,” he added.

The former prime minister, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly in April this year, said that it is unimaginable in western countries what is happening in Pakistan these days. “When will the country’s law give protection,” Imran said.

The PTI chief also said it was a miracle that so many people survived the attack.

Doubling down on earlier claims, Imran held a senior military officer, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah responsible for the attack and said they had used “religious extremism” as a “cover to shunt off the blame”.

“For anyone harboring any doubts,” Imran added, “you can tell that he had been told to say this when the attacker claimed he had done this alone”.

“The forensic [report] of the container has shown that there were two types of bullet, meaning there were two shooters,” he added, “so the whole plan they had was that [just like] Salman Taseer was killed by a religious extremist and the matter is sorted”.

Imran also hailed Ibtesam – the young man whose quick thinking had saved the former prime minister – for his “heroic effort”. He also announced again that the party will “take lifetime responsibility” for the children of the victim who lost his life during the attack.

“Our march will not end,” vowed Imran as he reiterated his commitment to the establishment of justice.

Continuing his criticism, the PTI chief said that the senior military officer was behind “what they have done to us, to the journalists, and what they did to Arshad Sharif and what they did to Azam Swati”.

“I am the former primer prime minister, the chief of the largest party of Pakistan and I have not been able to register my FIR” because the military officer’s name was mentioned, said Imran.

“He is such a man who is above Pakistani law. DG ISPR says ‘it’ll be a disrespect to our military’; the military will be disrespected when it fails to take action on the matter,” said Imran.

PTI supporters converge in Wazirabad

As thousands of former prime minister Imran Khan’s supporters are expected to resume their protest march on the capital city Thursday in a bid to seek snap elections, a demand his successor, Shahbaz Sharif, rejects.

The lingering deadlock between the government and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party has deepened political turmoil at a time when Islamabad is also facing the big challenge of delivering tents and food to those displaced by this summer’s devastating floods ahead of the winter.

Thousands are still living in open areas in the wake of the floods that killed 1,739 people and affected 33 million since mid-June.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior leader from the party, said Thursday their protest march on Islamabad is resuming from Wazirabad where the former premier narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on November 3.

A gunman opened fire at a protest rally, wounding the country’s popular opposition leader in the leg and killing one of his supporters.

13 other people were also hurt in the attack, which Khan blames on Prime Minister Sharif and two other government and army officials. Khan has provided no evidence to support the allegation. The government and the military denied Khan’s charge, saying the attacker was arrested shortly after the shooting and was still being questioned.

Police insist the attacker acted alone and was a religious extremist, a claim that Khan and his party reject.

Khan is expected to address the rallygoers via video link, according to his party, which says Khan’s deputies including Chaudhry, will lead the march.

Khan himself will lead the march when it reaches Rawalpindi, near Islamabad.

The procession, which started two weeks ago, was peaceful until the attack, raising concerns about growing political instability in Pakistan amid its history of political violence and assassinations.

Khan accused Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan and an official from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency and orchestrating the shooting. The minister and Khan and Sharif’s government says Khan’s allegations were a “pack of lies.”

The government says it has already ordered a high-level probe into the attack.

Khan’s protest convoy started from Lahore two weeks ago with Khan and thousands of his supporters — in trucks, cars or on foot — marching toward Islamabad for what was to be an open-ended rally until his demands were met.


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