The objective of Imran Khan’s whirlwind Karachi trip was to muster support of the people of the metropolitan city for the ongoing anti-government campaign of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). And Sunday’s rally apparently did achieve this aim.
“I’ve come here to unite Punjabis, Sindhis, Mohajirs, Pathans and Baloch living here. I’ve come to make you one nation,” the PTI chief told a zealous crowd of tens of thousands gathered near Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi.
Clad in white shalwar-kameez and donning a red and green stole, Imran Khan – who chose to spend the 39th day of his Dharna in Karachi – reiterated that his party’s campaign would not stop until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigned.
“No one can save you this time, not even America, Saudi Arabia or Gullu Butts,” he said, addressing the prime minister. For thirty years, Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party have been taking turns to get into power, and the two families [Sharifs and Bhuttos] have been growing richer while the people are getting poorer, he added.
As red and gold fireworks lit up the sky, a beaming Imran said: “It seems we have achieved freedom. It seems that Nawaz Sharif has resigned, though that time is not far off.”
Addressing the massive crowd, Imran said some people were claiming that the sit-ins were being held at ‘someone’s behest’. “Have you come out on the army’s instructions?” “No” was the loud reply from the crowd.
Flanked by senior party leaders Jahangir Tareen, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Arif Alvi and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Imran said that people’s fundamental rights were to elect their representatives through voting and not through rigging. “Except for the 1970 elections, all elections in the country had been rigged. But no one has ever been caught or made accountable.”
Calling out to the people of both urban and rural Sindh, the PTI chairman said: “Sindh get ready. I am coming.” He said votes were being snatched from the people of Sindh in the name of the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “But I will teach you how to fight against these feudal lords,” he added.
He said the most oppressed people were peasants and laborers of Sindh. “For the past three months, workers have not been getting salaries in Steel Mills while Hindus are being forced to leave Sindh. This will not happen in Naya Pakistan,” he promised.
The PTI chief vowed to de-politicise the police force in Karachi. “Some people in the government are supporting target killers.”
He specifically made mention of Lyari and said the people living there had no water or civic facilities while criminal gangs operating there were not brought to justice. Imran vowed that he would fight against the water and land mafias in the city.
The PTI chief said MNAs and other powerful people would continue to oppress people until the local government system was introduced. “With this system in place, people at lower strata would have the power to run their own affairs and keep a check on police,” he said.
During the speech which lasted less than an hour, Imran did not mention Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), its chief Altaf Hussain or the recent war of words between his party and the MQM on the division of Sindh.
Earlier Shah Mahmood Qureshi criticised PTI’s defunct president Javed Hashmi and alleged that the so-called ‘Baghi’ had joined hands with Nawaz Sharif. “The people of Sindh are fed up with corruption. They see Pakistan Peoples Party as the party of ‘Zar’ and ‘Zardari’,” he added.
After addressing his supporters in Karachi, the PTI chief reached D-Chowk in Islamabad Sunday night. Joyous over the success of the Karachi rally, Imran reiterated his stance that the prime minister should resign for one month so that transparent investigation into alleged rigging in the May 2013 elections could be carried out.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2014.