LAHORE – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday challenged the rulers to come up with a plan to steer the country out of the crises, and put forward his own roadmap to recovery.
Addressing a massive public rally at Minar-e-Pakistan, the PTI chairman delivered a lengthy speech, similar to the one he delivered at the same venue just over a decade ago.
Announcing his 10-point programme that he said would pull Pakistan out of the economic crisis, Khan said that overseas Pakistanis will be motivated to invest in Pakistan. “We will facilitate all those who would export and bring dollars into the country,” he said.
Khan criticised the PDM government and said the level-playing field does not mean cornering his party. He said around 150 cases have been registered against him untill now.
“A level-playing field does not mean Imran Khan’s hands are tied. A century of cases have been filed against me, including 40 terrorism cases. Now, the number of cases is almost 150,” Khan told the public gathering around midnight.
He praised his party workers for showing up at the rally, saying people in large numbers came to Minar-e-Pakistan against all odds. “Those in power must know that [blocking the roads and pathways with shipping] containers cannot stop people who want true independence,” he said, adding that fear was spread to disrupt the public meeting.
Imran said that his government was overthrown under a conspiracy and criminals were imposed on the country as part of the plot. He said that true freedom can only be achieved with justice, citing examples of people in other countries standing up to oppression. He stressed that Pakistan will have true freedom when it has supremacy and rule of law.
Khan underscored that Pakistan has not achieved the freedom it deserves under the rule of law and criticised the government and democrats for not upholding it.
“We did not get the freedom which we should have got from the rule of law. It is unfortunate that even our democrats didn’t let the law have an upper hand in the country,” he lamented.
The PTI organised the jalsa at Lahore’s monumental Minar-e-Pakistan ground despite the interim Punjab government’s “threat alert” that terrorists might target political functions in the provincial capital.
In the alert, the government said that terrorists, carrying explosive material, have reached Lahore and will either target political rallies or law enforcers deployed for the security of those events.
Earlier, the government placed containers on the way leading to Minar-e-Pakistan, leading to hurdles for people seeking to partake in the jalsa.
But in his statement, caretaker Punjab Information Minister Amir Mir said that people are not being restricted from going to the rally through barriers, but the law enforcement agencies were ensuring citizens’ protection through these measures.
The minister added said that workers of any political party are not being prevented from joining the rally and that the government has given permission to PTI to hold the event.
The routes leading to Minar Pakistan from Ravi Bridge and Railway Station are closed, while containers have also been placed at the city’s Shah Alam Market.
A larger number of supporters of the defiant politician were present in the ground where Senator Faisal Javed was charging the public. Strict security measures were taken to avoid any untoward situation.
The route of the PTI chief to reach the venue was kept secret due to security reasons. The former premier addressed the public from a bulletproof container.
اہلیان لاہور۔۔آج آپ کا دن ہے۔ مینار پاکستان کی طرف روانہ ہوں اور جابر حکمرانوں کو منہ تور جواب دیں- #حقیقی_آزادی_جلسہ pic.twitter.com/WLaxj15F3p
— PTI (@PTIofficial) March 25, 2023
تمام تر اوچھے ہتھکنڈوں کے باوجود مینار پاکستان میں عوام کی بہت بڑی تعداد میں آمد کا سلسلہ جاری۔
— PTI (@PTIofficial) March 25, 2023
Internet service was suspended in areas nearby Minar-e-Pakistan.
Besides closing several arteries in country’s second-largest city Lahore, police raided the houses of several PTI leaders and workers and detained scores of activists in the province ahead of the Minar-e-Pakistan rally.
The road from Data Darbar to Minar-e-Pakistan was closed by placing containers. Barriers were mounted near Shah Alam Market Chowk, Lahore Railway Station, Rang Mahal and Taxali Gate. Shahdara Chowk and Ravi Bridge were also closed by placing containers.
The entrance and exit points of the provincial capital were sealed.
درج ذیل سڑکیں ٹریفک کے لیے بند ہیں.براہ کرم متبادل راستے اختیار کریں اور 15 پر کال کریں یا مدد کے لیے اپنے موبائل پر RASTA APP ڈاؤن لوڈ کریں۔#ctplahore #services pic.twitter.com/SyCEUUXHpm
— City Traffic Police Lahore (@ctplahore) March 25, 2023
Police parties conducted raids at the residence of Usman Dar in Sialkot but he escaped. Former-assistant advocate general Punjab Mian Shakeel also managed to dodge police amid an ongoing crackdown.
A similar crackdown against leaders and workers of the former ruling party also continued in Lahore as the residences of Mian Abid Ali, and Waqar Zulfiqar Bhatti were raided in late-night action.
Amid the crackdown, the defiant leader and PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced holding a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan tonight. In a social media post, the former premier said that the authorities would try to put all sorts of hurdles to prevent the masses from attending the PTI gathering but called on people to attend it despite all obstacles.
They will put all sorts of hurdles to prevent people from attending, but I want to remind our ppl that it is their fundamental right to attend a political gathering. Everyone must assert their right as people of a free nation that won its independence & come to Minar i Pakistan.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 25, 2023
“Tonight will be our 6th jalsa at Minar i Pakistan & my heart tells me it will break all records. I am inviting everyone in Lahore to attend after Tarawih prayers. I will give my vision of Haqeeqi Azadi & how we will pull Pak out of the mess cabal of crooks have put our country in…They will put all sorts of hurdles to prevent people from attending, but I want to remind our ppl that it is their fundamental right to attend a political gathering. Everyone must assert their right as people of a free nation that won its independence & come to Minar i Pakistan,” Imran Khan wrote.