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Imran gives countrywide protest call against inflation

Says country’s sovereignty at stake as long as coalition set-up remains in power Says No PM will be able to have independent foreign policy unless nation takes stand against ‘conspiracy’

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Thursday urged the people to take to the streets on Sunday (June 19) at 9pm against rising inflation and the massive hike in the prices of petroleum products.

In a recorded video message, Imran warned that inflation would soar in days to come if the nation “kept sitting idly”.

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“I am inviting the entire nation for a peaceful protest against inflation. I invite trade unions, professionals, doctors, engineers, clerks, and government workers to take to the streets,” appealed the former PM.

He alleged that the incumbent government was incapable of handling the economy.

He said he wanted to ask the incumbent rulers why they “indulged in a conspiracy” when they were not capable of handling the economy and the country.

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Imran said the nation remembers the narrative of the incumbent government leaders when they were in the opposition and used to criticize his government over inflation. “Now the reality is before everyone.”

“When we left the government, petrol was priced at Rs150 per litre and it was raised by Rs50 in our three-and-a-half-year tenure,” the ex-PM recalled.

Imran said that the International Monetary Fund was also pressing the PTI government to raise fuel prices, because of which “we had reserved Rs200 billion in subsidies realising the impending impact of fuel price hike on the public.”

He noted the government had raised the price of petrol by Rs85 in mere 20 days – contrary to Rs50 hike made by the PTI in its nearly four-year rule – and expressed apprehension that the prices would go even further up.

The former premier warned that a further hike in diesel prices would wreak an “economic havoc” in the country.

He said his government had left the electricity tariff at Rs16 per unit, lamenting that the new government had since taken it to Rs30 per unit.

“A 20kg bag of wheat was available for Rs1,100 and it has now surged to Rs1,500. Similarly, ghee price has been hiked to Rs650 per kg from Rs400.”

Separately, the PTI chairman warned that if the incumbent coalition set-up remained in power, the country might face a situation compelling it to “compromise its sovereignty”.

Addressing lawyers at a ceremony organised by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association, Imran said he feared that the country’s rulers would weaken it economically, and he feared that they may steer the country to a point where “those who come to bail us out may put forward a condition that will compromise our sovereignty, compromise our independence”.

“The direction in which Pakistan has headed, I fear that we will [meet the same fate as] Sri Lanka. There has been an economic collapse there and I fear that we are headed in the same direction.”

In this context, Imran also gave the example of the Soviet Union, which he said was “militarily strong but economically weak”, which is it why broke apart.

Imran said the “government does not have a roadmap” to salvage the economy and the “market has lost confidence in it”.

“But instead of concentrating on the economy, their only interest is in getting a second NRO,” he said.

He urged the nation to take a stand against the “conspiracy” and cautioned: “Otherwise, no prime minister will be able to have an independent foreign policy in the future. He will be scared, he will bend when a threat comes from America.”

Imran further gave the example of the US war on terror, saying that the government conceding to the US demand of participating in the war “despite the US carrying out drone attacks in Pakistan” was “slavery”.

“I am standing against this slavery. Otherwise, it was also very convenient for me to agree not to visit Russia,” he added.

He continued that he had not visited Russia for any personal interest but for the country’s benefit. “We would have procured gas and wheat from Russia,” he said, adding that the Kremlin had also offered oil to Pakistan at cheaper rates.

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