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Imran delays announcing Islamabad long march date

PTI chief says date will be finalised during party’s core committee meeting but march could begin any day between May 25 and 29

Former prime minister Imran Khan said on Friday that he had called a session of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) core committee tomorrow (Sunday) in Peshawar, where a final decision regarding the date of the long march on Islamabad would be decided.

Addressing a huge rally in Multan, where he was expected to announce a final date for his march, the PTI chief said it could be held on any day between May 25 and May 29.

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Lashing out at the current government for “its inability to govern the country”, he demanded that the National Assembly be dissolved immediately and a date for fresh elections be announced. Criticising the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led coalition government, Imran said, “They were busy conspiring but now that they have assumed power, they must tell us why they are struggling to govern the country.”

Regarding to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, he said a convict was taking decisions. “You toppled our government and now I am happy that comparisons are taking place.” He said if he did not care for the nation, he would wish that the PML-N stayed in power for more months so that the people kept on cursing them as well as those “who brought them to power”.

He said a wave of inflation was on its way because when the rupee depreciates, it has an impact on everything.

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“If they stay in power for long, they will turn Pakistan into Sri Lanka. That’s why I demand an election date as soon as possible and dissolution of assemblies.”

The former PM said police officials, army personnel, retired army officers and civil servants had assured that their families would be taking part in the Islamabad march. “The sea of people that will head towards the capital will be the first of its kind in history,” he claimed. He said his decision to initiate a march was not based on politics, adding that “it is a revolution that will make Pakistan a great nation”.

Turning his guns on America, Imran said the US had no right to dictate to Pakistan. “You ask us to refrain from buying oil and wheat from Russia, but did you ever make a similar demand from India?” he asked.

He said India and Pakistan came into being at the same time but the former had a people-friendly foreign policy while the latter was unfortunate to have leaders like Sharifs and Zardaris. “These leaders do not have the courage to enact policies for the welfare of the public.”

He said he could not understand the reason behind Sharif family’s rage against him. “All the corruption cases, except the one by FIA [Federal Investigation Agency], against Shehbaz Sharif were filed in their own reigns,” he added.

In another remark targeting Maryam Nawaz, Imran said someone sent him a clip from her public meeting from a day earlier wherein she took his name many times. “I want to tell you that your husband may get upset because of the way you are taking my name,” he said. Reacting strongly to this comment, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said women from across the country should protest against the use of such “regrettable” language. “Using such shallow tactics, you will not be able to hide your crimes against the country. One can’t expect those who disrespected the Prophet’s Mosque to respect mothers, sisters and daughters,” Shehbaz wrote on Twitter.

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