Former Pakistani Prime Minister and Founder, Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan praised India on Friday for its autonomous foreign policy and its procurement of Russian energy in accordance with its national interests despite Western pressure during the Ukraine crisis.
He made the statement while speaking to supporters of his party gathering in Lahore for his protest march toward Islamabad in order to put pressure on the government to call early general elections.
Imran Khan stated that India has the ability to buy oil from Russia at will, but Pakistanis are a slave who have failed to make decisions for the wellbeing of their country’s people.
“The decisions of this nation must be made inside the nation. If Russia isgiving cheap oil and if I have the choice to save my countrymen, no oneshould ask us. No one should be able to tell us. India can take oil fromRussia but slave Pakistanis are not allowed. I want to see a free country andjustice must prevail and people should be provided safety and security,”news agency ANI quoted PTI chairman as saying.
He further stated that the country’s people, not America or anybody else, should pick who runs the country.
“I want free and fair elections. I want the people to decide who will lead the country — not Washington, America or anyone else,” Imran added, Dawn reported.
PTI supporters on motorcycles and carrying party flags gathered at the well-known Liberty Chowk. The party is promoting the march as a “Haqiqi Azadi March,” or a march for genuine national freedom.
وقت آ گیا ہے کہ ملک کی حقیقی آزادی کا سفر شروع کیا جائے۔ عمران خان #حقیقی_آزادی_لانگ_مارچ pic.twitter.com/kSErre2KZY
— PTI (@PTIofficial) October 28, 2022
Imran told supporters after arriving at the Liberty Chowk that the joint press conference held yesterday by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum and Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar was more “political than Sheikh Rasheed,” Dawn reported.
“DG ISI, listen carefully, the things I know, I am staying silent for my institutions and the country. I don’t want to damage my country,” the PTI chief quoted as saying by Dawn.
The former prime minister further claimed that during “backdoor talks,” he never made any unconstitutional demands.
“I do constructive criticism for betterment otherwise there was a lot I could say,” he stated further.
“We do constructive criticism, a criticism that only benefit you and for your betterment”[email protected] #حقیقی_آزادی_لانگ_مارچ pic.twitter.com/xRrSyzF9y3
— PTI (@PTIofficial) October 28, 2022
Khan, 70, is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on November 4 and has officially requested permission from the government to hold a protest rally for his party.
It is unclear whether he will return after the rally or turn it into a sit-in, as he did in 2014 when his supporters staged a 126-day sit-in in front of the parliament building, news agency PTI reported.
Asad Umar, the PTI secretary general, told the media in Lahore that the protest would be peaceful and that “from now on, all decisions will be taken by the people.”
He stated that the party decided to dedicate the march to the memory of slain journalist Arshad Sharif.
The country was dealing with conflicting accounts of the killing of journalist Sharif in Kenya, as well as indirect allegations against the armed forces.
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Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, who was with Umar at the presser, urged the public to take part in the protest. “You should take part in this march even if you do not belong to the PTI. The nation must reject decisions taken behind closed doors,” he said.
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) October 28, 2022
The march was rejected by the government, and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb stated that the people had refused to be servile to a “foreign-funded” agitator, as well as the “bloody march,” news agency PTI reported.
The stocks tumbled by more than 200 points during early trade as the PTI planned protest was set to begin, and the benchmark KSE-100 index fell 228.54 points, or 0.55 percent, to 41,374.32 points by the middy.
Khan had previously stated in a video message that the demonstration was not for “personal or political goals, but to achieve true independence for the people.” Khan has been seeking early polls and threatening a protest march to Islamabad if the government does not provide a date for elections.
The National Assembly’s term will expire in August 2023, and new elections should be held within 60 days.
Khan, who was deposed in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, has spoken of a “threat letter” from the US, claiming that it was part of a foreign conspiracy to depose him because he was not acceptable for pursuing an independent foreign policy. The claims have been categorically denied by the United States.
(With Inputs From Agencies)