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Imran tells workers to get ready for Islamabad march

PTI chief demands chief election commissioner’s resignation for being biased in foreign funding case

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Saturday said he had asked his party to begin preparations for the powerful Islamabad march.

Addressing a press conference at his Bani Gala residence – his first since his ouster – he said he would announce the date for the march later, but directed party leaders, including those at the village level, to prepare for the march for “true freedom”.

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A huge sea of people would go towards the capital, he said, adding that he had never seen such political awareness among the people.

“People have begun to understand the joke that happened with them and the kind of people placed on us (as rulers),” he said, claiming that there was an unprecedented number of “criminals” and those who were out on bail in the newly formed federal cabinet. He also said the party would hold prayers on the 27th of Ramazan for the march’s success.

Imran also demanded resignation from Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, saying the party believed him to be “biased” in the foreign funding case.

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The PTI did not trust the CEC because all his decisions were against the party, the former premier said.

Talking about the no-confidence vote, the former premier questioned whether the way “people sold their consciences and committed treachery with democracy” ahead of the vote was not important enough for the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold daily hearings. “I am shocked that the SC and ECP are not taking [action] urgently.”

Referring to the SC’s hearings on the presidential reference seeking its interpretation of Article 63-A, which is related to the disqualification of lawmakers over defection, Imran said the article was important because if no action was taken against those who “participated” in the “foreign conspiracy”, it would open the doors for similar incidents in the future. “No prime minister would be able to hold out against foreign conspiracies in future if no investigation was carried out [into alleged threat letter],” he said while urging the state institutions to take a stand against alleged foreign plot to protect country’s sovereignty.

The PTI chief said the high-powered National Security Committee (NSC) huddle the other day “vindicated” his claim of foreign conspiracy and also “validated” minutes of the body’s meeting held last month when he was the prime minister. He advised PM Shehbaz to “ask for forgiveness” since it had been proven that the cable was real. He also lashed out at the opponents for terming the diplomatic cipher a routine matter, calling them “shameless”.

A day earlier, a statement issued after the NSC meeting said it discussed the telegram received from the ambassador in Washington – which was first brandished by Imran at the PTI’s rally on March 27 – and “reaffirmed the decisions of the last NSC meeting”.

However, the meeting concluded that “there has been no foreign conspiracy”, according to the statement. “The language used [in the cable] was undiplomatic. I will say it was arrogance,” the PTI chief said.

Terming the threat a “shameful” thing for the country, he said former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and military dictator General (r) Pervez Musharraf had also received threats. “When a nation bows down before such threats and such conspiracies are successful, no one should have any doubts,” he added.

Imran also criticised the government’s decision of striking down names from no-fly list, saying the decision was made to provide “safe exit” to corrupt individuals. He said he was not afraid of his name being put on the Exit Control List (ECL) because he did not want to go abroad.

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