ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan — who has repeatedly said that during his tenure, decision-making powers did not lie with him — doubled down on his claim on Wednesday, saying agencies, such as National Accountability Bureau (NAB), were controlled by the unelected institutions of the state who saved the “crooks” in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance from being convicted.
The statement by the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), acknowledging his helplessness despite being at the helm of the affairs, came on the sixth day of his protest march to Islamabad.
Khan launched the long march on the capital last Friday to demand early elections, piling pressure on a government already in crisis.
Thousands of people gathered Wednesday in Gujranwala, from where the convoy began the 217-kilometre journey to the capital, expected to take around two weeks with rallies planned along the route.
According to a latest schedule of the long march shared by Asad Umar, secretary general of the party, the protestors will arrive in Rawalpindi on November 10. He said party workers from across the country would spend the day in the garrison city and cross the border into Islamabad on November 11.
Speaking to a charged crowd in Gujranwala, Khan observed that “all officers investigating corruption cases against members of the Sharif family died one after another.”
“No one asked how did they die all of a sudden,” he thundered. “Then, Imran Raza, another officer who was conducting the probe […] later it transpired that he also died.”
“We cannot fix the system until the powerful are brought under the law. But there were hidden hands [of the establishment helping them] and these people won’t get convicted.”
“We could not do anything. NAB was not in my hands. Those who were controlling NAB saved these crooks.”
During my tenure, running the affairs of the country was supposed to be my responsibility, but the “orders were coming from somewhere else”, Khan said, while referring to his tenure.
Shehbaz Sharif was about to be convicted in an Rs16 billion money laundering case and he was saved and made prime minister of the country.
Khan added that if he had enjoyed complete authority, his administration could have competed with the reign of Sher Shah Suri — founder of the powerful Sur dynasty that ruled north India in the 16th century.
‘NRO BEHIND HISTORIC INFLATION’
The former prime minister further asked what led to “so much inflation in a span of just six months”.
Pakistan’s inflation accelerated more than estimated last month on costlier food, adding pressure on the central bank to resume monetary policy tightening.
Consumer prices rose 26.6 percent in October from a year earlier, according to government data released Tuesday. Food inflation quickened 36.2 percent year-on-year, while transport prices surged 53.4 percent, data showed. Clothing and footwear prices rose 18.3 percent and housing, water and electricity costs rose 11.9 percent.
“They got an NRO; all cases have been quashed. Maryam’s papa [sic] is getting ready to come back, Shehbaz’s cases have also been quashed. Zardari also has his cases settled,” Khan said, offering an explanation.
He said it appeared that “only small crooks will be caught and the rich will go scot-free”. They have made laws that will lead to the arrest of small crooks only, he said, adding his now-familiar refrain of “we are not sheep!”
He then followed up by saying previously these people would be called “criminals” but now they say “we have given them NRO”.
Punjab police have been directed to give special protocol to Khan as more than 40 police vehicles are escorting the protestors. The Punjab government has also released Rs50 million in funds to the police to meet their expenses during the course of the event.__Pakistan Today