Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday announced that his party will launch its “Jail Bharo” (fill jails) movement from Wednesday, Feb. 22, from Lahore before expanding it to other major cities of the country.
“We will fill jails, they [government] will have no space left,” he said during a televised address delivered via video-link from his Zaman Park home in the Punjab capital. “They want to enslave us by threatening to put us in jails,” he said, stressing that this fear needed to be broken and this would be accomplished by PTI supporters and workers voluntarily courting arrest.
Khan, who was ousted through a vote of no-confidence last year, has been threatening a “Jail Bharo” movement since October. The first threat never materialized but was reiterated during an address on Feb. 4, when he directed PTI workers and supporters to prepare to “fill jails” over the “political victimization” of party leaders such as Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill.
Alleging that police had raided the homes of PTI workers in Multan on “orders”, he questioned why the public would not “hate” law enforcement personnel in this scenario. Reiterating accusations of the caretaker government in Punjab being biased against the PTI, he referred to Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi as a man of “questionable character” and blamed him for posting police officials in Lahore that had been involved in the response against the PTI’s protest in May.
He also accused the interim government of obstructing the probe into an assassination attempt on him at Wazirabad on Nov. 3, saying its job was solely to conduct elections. “The interim government first comes and stops the JIT and steals records. When an officer goes to collect the JIT report, it is found that only 11 pages of the report are remaining,” he claimed.
The PTI chief also lamented the “torture” inflicted on his party’s leaders in detention, claiming that this was the first time in “history” that such acts had been committed against political opponents—even though his own time in government is littered with a string of cases that were slammed as “politically motivated” by various courts of law.
Continuing his verbal tirades against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Khan said: “It is dangerous that the CEC [chief election commissioner] is showing his inability to conduct the election.” Maintaining that the PTI had decided to dissolve the assemblies in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with the view that they would proceed to elections within 90 days, he alleged that the caretaker setup would cease to have legal standing on the 91st day.
No disaster would be bigger than the judiciary failing to ensure the implementation of the Constitution, he warned. “There is no justice where the rule of law collapses,” he said, as he renewed criticism of the ruling coalition and its recently introduced ‘mini-budget,’ which he said would “break the back” of the general public. “Loans are not the solution to the problems being faced by the country,” he said, without offering any alternate means of generating revenue in the prevailing economic crunch.
“They [PDM] did not come into power via election but auction,” he said. “The government does not seem to want to conduct elections in 90 days. They fear elections,” he said, alleging that they wished to secure electoral wins through rigging. He vowed that the PTI would not let the government rig the elections, no matter what.