Pakistan’s opposition leader Imran Khan has declared a “civil disobedience movement” against the Nawaz Sharif-led government, saying the country’s future is bleak under the rule of businessmen, as cleric Tahirul Qadri gave a 48-hour ultimatum to the embattled Prime Minister to resign.
“I have called for the civil disobedience movement for you, not for myself. We will not pay taxes, electricity or gas bills,” Khan told his supporters while giving a speech which he described as the most important of his political career.
“I thought that if this rally heads towards the Prime Minister House then they will clash with the police,” and they (the police) will get killed which “I don’t want”, he said on the second day of his sit-in here.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief asserted that under the rule of “these businessmen who only want to make money for themselves, Pakistan’s future is bleak.”
Khan’s remarks were directed at Sharif, one of the country’s wealthiest person and the owner of Ittefaq Group.
“There is only one way now, we will kick off a civil disobedience campaign,” Khan said to raucous applause from thousands of his supporters, who have traveled from Lahore in his ‘Azadi March’ aimed at ousting Prime Minister Sharif who won a landslide victory in the general election last year.
In the polls, Sharif’s PML-N had won 190 out of 342 seats. Khan’s PTI got 34 seats, the third largest bloc in the legislature. Khan claimed that his party should have won many more seats but for the vote-rigging by Sharif’s PML-N.
The PTI chief said he will not be able to hold back his supporters if his demands are not met within two days.
He urged the crowd not to move ahead, because he has promised Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar that he and his supporters will not cross into the “Red Zone” where the Parliament, the President and the Prime Minister’s residences and embassies are located.
“Whoever tried to hold Nawaz accountable, he bought them off. Nawaz bought judges, the election commission last year and he tried buying off generals,” Khan alleged.
The cricketer-turned-politician, at the start of his speech, said, “I assure you that when I finish my speech, and if you do what I ask you to, then no one can stop a ‘naya’ Pakistan from being made.”
Undeterred by inclement weather and low turnouts, supporters of Khan and the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) headed by Qadri continued their protests for a fourth day running.
Earlier, stick wielding PTI protesters hit containers and removed barbed wire blocking their way to the “Red Zone”.
Qadri, who is calling for the arrest of Sharif and his brother Shahbaz for the killing of his 14 supporters in Lahore on June 17, has given a 48-hour ultimatum to the embattled Prime Minister to resign.