Home Latest News PTI’s ‘Long March’ to Commence on May 25: Imran Khan

PTI’s ‘Long March’ to Commence on May 25: Imran Khan

Former prime minister urges military to adhere to its stated ‘neutrality’ with regards to his party’s demonstrations

by Staff Report

Screengrab of the PTI chairman’s press conference announcing the date for the long march

Ousted prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s “long march” on Islamabad would take place on May 25, with him leading a convoy from Peshawar to the federal capital, where he will join supporters at the Srinagar Highway.

Announcing the decision of the PTI’s core committee from Peshawar, he said the party had only two demands: a specific date for general elections and the dissolution of the Lower House of Parliament. “We are ready to sacrifice our lives but will never accept these thieves ruling the country,” he said, referring to the incumbent coalition government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. “We need a date for the fresh elections and a dissolution of the assemblies,” he added.

Claiming that people from all walks of life should join the protest, which he said would continue for “as long as required,” he took special aim at women and families of military personnel and bureaucrats, urging them to support him in large numbers. In a subsequent posting on Twitter, he said he wants “the entire nation” to reach the federal capital. He also urged his supporters to not wait till the 25th, stressing that people should start to reach Islamabad as and when they were able to prevent authorities from blocking their path.

In a noticeable change of stance, Khan told the military that now that it had declared its “neutrality,” it should adhere to it and remain “neutral” with regards to the PTI’s protest. For the past several months, the PTI chairman has repeatedly asserted that Islam does not “permit” neutrality, and only “animals” are neutral. He has also admitted to media that every time he refers to “neutrals,” he is directly addressing the military. Last month, in a press conference, the military spokesman said the Army was “neutral” and did not wish to be dragged into politics, provoking criticism—both muted and otherwise—from within the PTI.

Stressing that the PTI was a “peaceful” party, the former prime minister claimed it had “never instigated violence or chaos.” However, several party leaders have made public statements in recent weeks warning of violence if their demands for early elections are not met. “This isn’t politics; this is jihad,” said Khan. “If they [government] try to stop the long march, that would be illegal and we will take action against it if that happens,” he added.

At the outset of his press conference, Khan reiterated allegations of his government having been ousted through a “foreign conspiracy.” Claiming that this “conspiracy” was a “plot against Pakistan,” he maintained that his government had been moving the country toward “unprecedented progress” in the national economy. Alleging that the incumbent government had pushed the country toward bankruptcy in just six weeks, he accused the incumbent rulers of being “only experienced in corruption.”

Claiming that the incumbent government had “no plans, no roadmaps, and was unable to make decisions out of fear,” he criticized recent statements expressing a desire to seek the assistance of the National Security Council (NSC) to secure national support for a looming increase in the prices of petroleum products. “The government is putting forward such demands so that the Pakistan Army will eventually have to bear the burden of the tough decisions so that it could get off scot-free,” he added.

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