Youth’s responsibility to remove obstacles on way to Islamabad: Imran

Says long march test for judiciary, bureaucracy and ‘neutrals’

PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Tuesday urged the youth of the country – which he also dubbed the “attack force” – to power through all obstacles placed by the government on their way to Islamabad as part of his party’s long march that is set to begin tomorrow.

Addressing the party’s youth wing in Peshawar, Imran said he hoped the youth already knew its responsibilities. “Our attack force, comprising all of you, will be responsible to remove all impediments when we begin our march tomorrow,” Imran told the gathering of the PTI’s youth wing.

His message for the youth was in the context of the government’s decision to stop the match in order to prevent “chaos and disorder”.

To prevent the marchers from entering the capital, hundreds of containers have been provided to Islamabad police while a ban has been imposed on gatherings under Section 144 (power to issue order absolute at once in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The PTI chief said his government had never barred the opposition from protests or rallies during its three and a half years in power, however, “they (the current government) are cracking down on our leaders and their families as if they are criminals or traitors of the country.” Imran said his march would be the test of the judiciary, police, ‘neutrals’ as well as the bureaucracy on “where they actually stand”.

“We will see whether you support these thieves and servants of America or support the real independence of Pakistan,” the ex-PM said. He reiterated that he would lead all his party workers, leaders and participants tomorrow to Islamabad. “Whoever tries to stop this march will be swept away by the sea of people.” He told his supporters to consider the march as “jihad” and not politics. “You must prepare yourselves [in advance] as the government might suspend mobile networks and target other communication modes.”

He said his struggle would continue until the marchers got an election date, assemblies were dissolved and the imported government was sent packing. Imran lashed out at the government for trying to stop the party’s long march, asking the country’s judiciary and ‘neutrals’ to “do the right thing”. He expressed these views while addressing a news conference in Peshawar earlier in the day, in which he pilloried the government and described its recent moves as “akin to what dictators do”.

At the outset of his press conference, Imran said that this was a “defining moment for the country” which would decide its fate. He asserted that there was no difference between the “fascist government” and the military dictators of the past, saying that both used the same tactics. He maintained that during the PTI government’s tenure, the then opposition was allowed to stage protests and long marches several times. “They marched several times with the purpose of ousting the government but did we resort to these methods?” Imran lashed out at the government for conducting late-night raids in Lahore and for barging into the homes of innocent citizens. He questioned why the government was suddenly resorting to such tactics, calling on them to highlight any instance in the past where he had ever broken the law.

The PTI chairman said that the country was looking towards the judiciary, telling them that this was their “trial”. “The country is going to look at your decisions,” he said.