PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday said that the party would stage a power show at Minar-i-Pakistan — the same venue where he launched his campaign for the 2013 elections — on Wednesday (March 22), saying that it would be a referendum on where the nation stood.
“Now, we are doing Minar-i-Pakistan on Wednesday. And I want the whole country to see, it will be a referendum on where the public stands. Everyone will know where the nation stands and where the cabal of crooks and their handlers stand,” he said while addressing the nation.
He made the remarks while addressing the nation a day after hours-long clashes were reported between PTI workers and the capital police on Saturday after the former prime minister arrived at the Federal Judicial Complex to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case.
Meanwhile, as Imran left his Zaman Park residence to appear before the judge, a heavy contingent of police launched a search operation at his house.
At the outset of his address, Imran said: “I wanted to talk to you all last night but I couldn’t. It was good that I didn’t because I was angry. And a person should not talk when he is angry.”
He asked what exactly his crime was, saying that the entire nation knew that he always respected the law. Imran alleged that 96 cases had been registered against him.
“Whenever I leave the house, more cases are registered against me. Who is doing this? The criminals responsible for doing this to the country are the ones registering cases against me.”
He alleged that the coalition government was behind the attempt on his life in Wazirabad, adding that they had the backing of “handlers”.
Lashing out at interim Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Imran said: “He considers Zardari a father. What would his character be then?”
Giving a rundown of the past couple of weeks, Imran said that the elections in Punjab were announced for April 30, following which the PTI decided to initiate its election campaign by holding a rally in Lahore on March 8.
“On the night of March, it was decided with the police how the rally would proceed and the police approved it. We got permission. The next day, as we are about to start, everyone starts saying that police contingents are here and placing containers.”
He said that as police appeared clad in riot control gear, it was revealed that Section 144 had been imposed in Lahore. “When elections have been announced, how can Section 144 be imposed? Has this happened before in Pakistan’s history?”
He said that when the rally started moving towards Zaman Park, police used water cannons and tear gas against PTI workers. Subsequently, he decided to cancel the rally by 5pm because “I knew that they are trying to make the situation deteriorate”.
Talking about the police operation at Zaman Park, Imran said it all began because he asked for his hearing to be shifted from an Islamabad court due to security concerns.
“F-8 kachery is a death trap,” he said, adding that arrest warrants were issued for him for this reason. He said that a huge “army” arrived at his Lahore residence over warrants issued by a magistrate.
“There were constant attacks here at my home. Has this ever happened before in the history of Pakistan?”
He asked that if he just had to mark his attendance in a court in Islamabad, why was his home being attacked from three sides. “Rangers were arriving in armoured vehicles, coming in after jumping over walls like some commando action is taking place.”
Imran said that he was ready to hand himself over to the police but he was stopped from doing so by his party workers who feared harm would befall the party chief.
“Yesterday, when I left my house, I said my goodbyes to my wife. I knew that I’d either be arrested or killed. With that thought in mind, I left my home.”
He said that when he reached the toll plaza, police had closed down the motorway. “Only one lane was open. They had in mind that once my car leaves, they will close it behind me so that rest of the cars cannot follow […] the whole of Islamabad was closed down as if for a major criminal.”