Imran Khan, the leader of the PTI, criticized the government on Tuesday for trying to stop the party’s long march to Islamabad. He also asked the country’s courts and “neutrals” to “do the right thing.”
He said this at a news conference in Peshawar, where he criticized the government and said its recent actions were “like what dictators do.” This was after the government said it would not let his party march on the capital tomorrow.
His speech came a day after the police were said to have arrested a number of people who worked for his party. On the same night, a police officer was killed in an operation in Lahore. Both the government and the PTI say that the killing was done by the other.
Imran said at the start of his press conference that this was a “defining moment for the country” that would decide the country’s future. He said that the “fascist government” and military dictators of the past used the same methods, so there was no difference between them.
He said that when the PTI was in power, the opposition was allowed to protest and go on long marches more than once. “They marched more than once to get rid of the government, but did we have to go to these lengths?”
Imran was angry that the government was doing raids in the middle of the night in Lahore and breaking into the homes of innocent people. He asked why the government was using these kinds of methods all of a sudden and asked them to show him where he had broken the law in the past.
The head of the PTI said that the country was looking at the courts and that this was their “trial.” “The country is going to watch what you do,” he said, adding that the long march was a peaceful protest and the party’s democratic right.
He went on to say that the PTI could protest the “imported conspiracy” if they wanted to. “When Bilawal held a long march, did we protest? Did we put him in jail? Fazlur Rehman also organized a march, and we told them we would help.”
When he talked to the court, he asked if they would let this kind of harassment and raids happen. “If you let this happen, people will no longer trust the court system. It would mean that Pakistan is not a democracy.”
He then spoke to the country’s bar associations and asked why they weren’t criticizing what the government was doing. “I’d like to thank the lawyers in the country who are standing up to protect democracy. But the people of the country are looking at the bar associations that aren’t condemning him. Are you on [the government’s] side?”
He said that it was no longer possible to “stay neutral.” “You need to choose which side you’re on. God hasn’t told us to walk down the middle, so if you do, you’re helping the bad guys.”
He told “those who say they are neutral” that they had sworn to protect the independence and sovereignty of the country. “You need to realize that people are watching you and that they will judge you. If the country goes to pieces, you will be just as responsible.”
He said that holding early elections was the only way to move forward. “There is no other way,” he said, fearing that the country was going to follow Sri Lanka’s example.
The government didn’t care about helping the country; they just wanted their corruption cases to be over. “Because of this, I want to tell everyone: Judges and lawyers, this is a turning point.”