Ousted prime minister Imran Khan on Monday announced that he will file a Rs 10 billion defamation suit against Pakistan's top election official for destroying his reputation by disqualifying him, as he asked "those in power" to stand with the nation on the fourth day of his long march to Islamabad.
Khan, who has announced that his objective was to gain Haqeeqi Azadi (real freedom) through the march which in his words was possible if free and fair elections are held immediately, also took a jibe at PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and said the "fugitive is waiting for the environment of the country to be suitable for his return."
Khan, 70, was earlier this month disqualified from membership of the current National Assembly by a five-member panel of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) headed by its chief Sikandar Sultan Raja.
"Sikandar Sultan, I will take you to court so that in the future, you do not destroy anyone's reputation on someone else's instructions, Khan told the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party workers at the start of the fourth day of his march at Kamonki.
He alleged that the ECP's decisions against him in Toshakhana and prohibited funding cases were given on the instructions of the incumbent "imported government".
"You (Sikandar) are friends of thieves and action will be taken," he said.
According to Pakistan's law, any gift received from dignitaries of a foreign state must be put in the state depository or the Toshakhana.
Khan had earlier announced that he would file a defamation case against Sultan. The former premier made the announcement while speaking to a private news channel.
"I will file a defamation lawsuit against CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja in Toshakhana reference and foreign funding case, Khan said in an interview and reiterated his demand for free and fair elections in the country under the new ECP chief.
The PTI chief also said he would back out himself if any allegations against him in the cases were to be proven true.
"Whenever courts against me prove that I have done an illegal thing, I will not wait for the court's decision to be issued and will back out on my own," Khan said.
He also targeted the powerful establishment, saying that a country's establishment never stands against the nation".
"To those who let this group of robbers (an obvious reference to the country's rulers) impose on us, I am giving a message with due respect: For God's sake, listen to the nation's voice, Khan urged in his message to "those with power".
Talking about his criticism of the Pakistan Army, Khan said he criticised them as a Pakistani who lives in and would die in Pakistan".
Khan, who also won a national assembly seat in a by-election held on Sunday in Kurram district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, said: "See where the nation is standing". He said the country would be strengthened when its institutions were strengthened.
"We are coming to Islamabad and it will take us 8-9 days to reach Islamabad, he told his supporters at Mor Eminabad.
"Our convoys will leave from all over Pakistan for Islamabad. People are joining us from Sindh, Balochistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan," Khan said.
Initially, the plan was to reach Islamabad on November 4 but the new plan shows that it may be delayed by a few days.
Khan kept up his trademark vitriolic attack against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and alleged that his opponent "polished the boots of those who were powerful and oppressed those who were weak".
"This boot polisher, Shehbaz Sharif, his corruption of Rs16 billion was caught by the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency). Another case of Rs 8bn was registered by the NAB (National Accountability Bureau). But the powerful sectors helped a criminal (charged with the corruption of Rs24bn) and prevented him from being punished, Khan alleged. Shehbaz's cases were slowed down, judges were pressured and the person who should've been in jail has been made prime minister, he added.
He also alleged that "decisions were taken behind closed doors" to "impose thieves over Pakistan".
"I have won eight elections. The nation has rejected the mafia and thieves, Khan said.
He said that former premier Nawaz Sharif was waiting for a "favourable environment" and "understanding with the powerful sectors" to return to Pakistan.
"But I must tell the facilitator and handlers of Nawaz. This is the Pakistani nation. We are not sheep," Khan said. "If you forcefully try to support thieves, the nation will turn against you."
Earlier, Khan took to social media to say that he had witnessed a revolution taking over the country.
"The sea of people along our March on the GT Road. For 6 months, I have been witnessing a revolution taking over the country. The only question is will it be a soft one through the ballot box or a destructive one through bloodshed? he tweeted.
The protest march halted its travel with the announcement to resume its journey towards Islamabad on Tuesday morning from Gujranwala.
Khan said that he would spend the entire day (Tuesday) in the city, considered as a stronghold of the Sharif family.
He said that people of Pakistan have a chance to "break the chains of slavery".
"But remember, the chains won't fall off themselves but have to be broken," he added.
"We will reach Sukkur tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon where caravans from Hyderabad, Hala, Skarund, Moro, Qazi Ahmad, Nawabshah and other areas of Sindh will join us, Ali Zaidi, PTI leader from Sindh, earlier said.
Meanwhile, the government has issued a notification to extend Islamabad's high security Red Zone. According to the ministry of interior, the protestors would not be allowed to enter the Red Zone.
Khan has been demanding early elections and he is leading the long march towards Islamabad to force his demands. The term of the National Assembly will end in August 2023 and fresh elections should be held within 60 days.
Khan, who was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, has talked about a 'threat letter' from the US and claimed that it was part of a foreign conspiracy to remove him as he was not acceptable for following an independent foreign policy. The US has bluntly rejected the allegations.
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