In the first phase of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) “Jail Bharo Tehreek (court arrest movement)”, the party’s senior leaders — Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar — have voluntarily decided to surrender themselves to the authorities.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, senior party leader Fawad Chaudhry said that PTI Vice Chairman Qureshi and PTI Secretary General Umar have announced voluntary surrendering before the law enforcers.
In the wake of sedition cases filed against his party leaders including Fawad Chaudhry, Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill, PTI Chairman Imran Khan on February 4 announced “Jail Bharo Tehreek”.
Fawad welcomed a statement reportedly issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that the body was “ready to hold elections in 90 days”.
He termed the announcement “a right step in the right direction.” In the same breath, the PTI leader said that President Arif Alvi set April 9 as the date for the general election in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — the move rejected by the ruling alliance — adding that the date could not be changed as per the Election Act and the Constitution.
A day after the ECP excused itself from holding consultations with President Alvi on polls in the provinces, the head of state on Monday (yesterday) announced holding elections in the two provinces on April 9.
Moving towards the upcoming elections in the country, the PTI leader said that the party would start allocating tickets to the candidates from next week. The PTI’s election campaign will reach its peak when Khan will join it within one-and-a-half weeks.
Chaudhry said that Khan has directed the party to kickstart preparations for the upcoming elections. He urged the PTI’s candidates to launch election campaigns in their respective constituencies.
The PTI would launch a countrywide public awareness campaign, he added.
Referring to the National Accountability Court’s (NAB) notices to the PTI leadership in the Toshakhana scam, Fawad said that the anti-graft watchdog’s chairman has exposed the government by tendering his resignation.
In a separate statement, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said four other PTI leaders will surrender themselves along with him and if the police didn’t arrest them they will make another attempt from Multan.
“If the election process is started on President Arif Alvi’s advice, there will be no need for the court arrest movement,” the former foreign minister added.
Qureshi welcomed Parvez Elahi into the PTI fold but evaded a question regarding the former Punjab chief minister’s presidentship status in PTI.
Aftab Sultan resigns
Earlier today, Aftab Sultan tendered his resignation as NAB chairman, after reportedly refusing to “toe the line”.
Speaking to Geo News, Sultan said that he had resigned from the office a few days ago. “I was asked to do certain things which were not acceptable to me.”
Referring to Khan’s appearance before the Lahore High Court (LHC) a day earlier, Fawad said that the way the workers welcomed the PTI chairman has triggered uneasiness among the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government.
PTI Lahore chapter President Imtiaz Shaikh announced that former Punjab governor Omer Sarfraz Cheema, Waleed Iqbal, Murad Raas, Muhammad Khan Madni, and Fawad Rasool, accompanied by 200 workers will voluntarily surrender themselves to the authorities in the metropolis tomorrow.
“Jail Bharo Tehreek” will begin from Lahore’s Charing Cross at 2 pm, he added.
‘IMF deal tactic to avoid default’
For his part, PTI leader Azhar lashed out at the coalition government over the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2023.
A day earlier, the National Assembly unanimously approved the government’s much-needed ‘mini-budget’ — a move mandatory for seeking a $1.1 billion tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.
Reacting to the move, the former finance minister said that bill was sailed through the NA against the law and the Constitution. Slamming Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the PTI leader said that he brought the country to the verge of economic collapse.
He termed the IMF deal “a tactic to avoid default”. Azhar criticised the ruling alliance over rising inflation in the country.
“Immediate elections are the sole solution to instability,” the PTI leader claimed and urged the ECP to announce a date for the polls.
Amid rising inflation, economic disaster, violation of the Constitution, and torture of PTI workers, the party has no other option but to resort to court arrest, said Azhar.