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Wednesday, July 17, 2024  
11 Muharram 1446  

No date as Imran Khan baits rivals with Islamabad march yet again

March won't be delayed beyond October, says PTI chief
PTI chief Imran Khan. File photo
PTI chief Imran Khan. File photo

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Monday that he would the announce his party’s much-talked about protest march to Islamabad in the next few days unless the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz -led coalition government announces a date for early election.

“Our preparations are complete. The march will take place no later than October.”

He added that he has given the coalition government the requisite time to announce early election. “If they won’t [announce elections], then we march,” he said while telling his supporters to be ready for his call.

Imran said this while addressing a press conference in Islamabad, a day after he coasted to victory on six of the seven National Assembly seats in a bye-election. The seats were vacated after the piecemeal acceptance of resignations of PTI lawmakers submitted in the wake of Imran’s defeat in a vote of no confidence in April.

“The parties of the government fought the election together,” he said referring to the coalition the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s decision to support a single candidate. The coalition includes leading parties including the PML-N, the PPP, JUI-F, MQM-P, ANP and BAP along with others.

“I thank the voters for defeating our opponents in the bye-election,” he said.

The PTI candidates were unsuccessful on two seats, NA-237 Malir-II in Karachi and NA-157 Multan, losing to PPP candidates. In the Punjab bye-elections on three seats, the PTI returned successful on two while the PML-N candidate won the third one.

Imran said that the defeats on the two NA seats, one in Sindh and the other in Punjab, were due to rigging. “There is evidence of it.”

He also raised questions about the impartiality and neutrality of the Election Commisison of Pakistan as well as the Sindh Election Commission. “Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja is a PML-N man, and the Sindh Election Commission is not neutral.”

“The election showed where people stand. It will become clearer in the march,” he said referring to the protest that he calls “the march for real freedom” or “haqeeqi azadi”.

Imran has threatened to lead his marchers to the federal capital Islamabad on multiple occasions. Imran last made the attempt to march to Islamabad on May 26 with the protest ending in pitched battles between police and PTI activists in Lahore and Islamabad. Scores were arrested and hundreds of cases filed. Imran eventually called off the march, saying that he feared bloodshed.

Azam Swati arrest

Imran Khan urged Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to issue the production order of Senator Azam Swati, who remains in FIA custody after his arrest last week over a tweet in which he sardonically congratulated army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on the acquittal of PM Shehbaz and his son Hamza in a money laundering case.

“We will go to the Supreme Court against the arrest of Azam Swati,” said Imran.

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