Home Latest News Imran Khan Launches PTI’s By-election Campaign in Lahore

Imran Khan Launches PTI’s By-election Campaign in Lahore

In speeches, party chairman maintains victory in by-polls essential to oust incumbent Punjab government, proceed to early elections

by Newsweek Pakistan

Screengrab of one of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s speeches in Lahore

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday urged supporters to ensure his party wins the by-elections on 20 seats in Punjab province on July 17, stressing this was necessary to “win real independence.”

“It’s not an election, it’s a jihad on July 17 and the polls will have to be won to prove that we don’t accept U.S. slavery,” he claimed as he launched the party’s by-election campaign in Lahore by visiting four constituencies—PP-158, PP-167, PP-168, PP-170—and addressing supporters.

The PTI lost all four seats after dissident lawmakers voted against party directions to elect Hamza Shehbaz of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) as chief minister of Punjab. Victory in the by-polls is considered essential for the PMLN to ensure it doesn’t lose the government, as it is currently hanging on by a razor-thin margin. The PTI has decided to contest Akram Usman (PP-158); Chaudhry Shabbir Gujjar (PP-167); Nawaz Awan (PP-168); Malik Zaheer Khokhar (PP-170) against PMLN’s Rana Ahsan, Nazir Chohan; Malik Asad Ali; and Muhammad Zulqarnain, respectively.

In addition to Khan, the gatherings were also addressed by other senior PTI leaders, including Dr. Yasmin Rashid and former minister Hammad Azhar.

During his speeches, the ousted prime minister reiterated claims that if re-elected, his party would bring back the “looted” money from his political rivals—something he was unable to even come close to achieving during four years in government. He also reiterated allegations of the money-laundering cases against P.M. Shehbaz Sharif and his son Punjab C.M. Hamza Shehbaz being “open and shut”—despite his government being unable to bring any of them to conclusion—and that their government was “imposed” on Pakistan through a conspiracy.

According to Khan, the Sharif family desires to remain in power to “loot and plunder” the country. He claimed the entire nation was looking to the results of the 20 by-elections in Punjab, as winning those seats would enable the PTI to topple the “fake government” of Hamza Shehbaz, regain power and announce fresh general elections.

He urged youth, especially women, to canvas for his party door-to-door and ensure people came out to vote on polling day so the PMLN would not be able to rig the vote with the help of “umpires”—a euphemism he has previously used to describe the security establishment. “The PTI needs to defeat all the turncoats who are actually banking on umpires’ help,” he said, adding that these “turncoats” had violated the Constitution and committed “treachery” against democracy and voters.

The former prime minister claimed the nation would “never forgive” the people who had “conspired” to oust the PTI-led government, and accused the incumbent government of using state machinery to terrorize the public against voting for the PTI. “The incumbent government wants to terrorize masses so they do not come out of their homes on polling day, allowing it to maneuver election results with the help of umpires,” he added.

As per routine, the PTI chairman also criticized the Election Commission of Pakistan for its “leanings” toward the PMLN, and directed his workers to stay vigilant at polling stations on July 17 to prevent rigging.

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