Imran throws spanner

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AS the situation created by unprecedented floods is assuming dangerous dimensions and the international community is showing keen interest to help Pakistan provide relief to the affected population and carry out reconstruction, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and former Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced to resume his ‘Haqiqi Azadi’ (true freedom) movement from September 24.

Addressing a gathering of lawyers in Lahore on Wednesday, he urged people to join his movement when he gave the call.

Imran Khan also referred to the back-breaking inflation, shattered economy, absence of rule of the law and held the Government responsible for all this.

Imran Khan used electioneering to keep up the momentum of his anti-Government campaign but had to put it on hold when the Election Commission announced to postpone by-elections in several national and provincial assemblies’ constituencies in view of hurdles created by the flood situation.

However, Khan continued his verbal attacks against the coalition government and its leadership and tried to remain relevant by issuing controversial statements including those relating to the appointment of a new Army Chief, which sparked strong reaction from the Pakistan Army as well.

As the date for taking a decision about appointment of a new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) or extension of the incumbent Army Chief is approaching fast, there are reasons to believe that Imran Khan is building pressure to have a say in the process despite the fact that it is sole prerogative of the Prime Minister to make the appointment.

The objective of his movement remains the same – immediate elections and his latest decisions comes in the backdrop of latest reports that the leadership of the coalition government was firm to stay in power till completion of the tenure of the present assemblies.

This position was reiterated in the context of the recent meeting of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with PML(N) supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif in London.

PTI wants to dislodge the Government through pressure tactics and it is to be seen to what extent it succeeds in its plans given failure of its attempts ever since the success of the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan and assumption of power by the coalition parties.

However, the party perceives the situation is quite different now as it has its own Government in Punjab as well besides KP, which could play their role in making the movement and the proposed march on Islamabad more effective.

It was in this context that the Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah Khan has warned the provinces against extending a helping hand in attempts to dislodge the federal government that those provinces supporting the long march of former prime minister Imran Khan would violate the Constitution and there would be consequences of it.

Chief Minister Punjab Ch Pervez Elahi might face political upheaval if he decides to do the bidding of PTI despite his own preference for continuation of the assemblies till August 2023.

The Centre has also written to the provinces for provision of security personnel to forestall threats to law and order in Islamabad and a negative response of Punjab and KP is a foregone conclusion.

The government obviously has the option to requisition paramilitary forces that can take care of security of the Federal Capital if attempts were made to push towards the traditional venue of D-Chowk (in front of the Parliament House) for any sit-in.

The Interior Minister has also warned that strong action would be taken against participants of the PTI long march if they attempt to come towards D-Chowk.

The protesters can gather at F-9 Park or some other place as the apex court has already provided guidance in this regard.

We have been emphasizing in these columns that every citizen and every party has a right to highlight its point of view but this has to be within the ambit of the law and as pointed out by Imran Khan himself rule of law should be ensured at all costs.

Attempts to paralyze the federal government would have consequences in terms of smooth supply of relief and rehabilitation aid from abroad and the economy would suffer more.

People are dying because of outbreak of the infectious diseases in the flood affected regions, rupee is shedding its value each day and as a consequence citizens are not getting any relief in inflation despite falling prices of oil in the global market.

It would be unwise to destabilize the country when the Government has repeatedly expressed its willingness for a dialogue to sort out differences.

 

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