‘Pakistan split into two because Awami League was denied its mandate in 1970’

Imran says his struggle similar to Bangabandhu’s

Shining BD Desk || Shining BD

Published: 11/3/2022 4:58:21 AM

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who is demanding an early general election in the country after being kicked out of office in April by a no-confidence vote, has compared his struggle for "real freedom" with that of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

He also reminded that Pakistan in 1971 had split into two after the Awami League, a political party with a legitimate mandate, was denied its right to rule despite winning the 1970 election.

Imran, a retired international cricket star, is leading a so-called "long march" of thousands of supporters to Pakistan's capital to pressure Islamabad to succumb to his demand.

The former premier, whose long march started on Friday, made these remarks while addressing party supporters in Gujranwala on Tuesday, reported Dawn, Pakistan's leading English daily. 

In his address to the participants, the PTI chairman said the Awami League was denied its "electoral mandate" which resulted in the separation of the eastern half of the country.

"A shrewd politician [ZA Bhutto], in his greed for power, set the armed forces against the then largest party [Awami League], which had won elections, causing the dismemberment of the country."

Comparing the PTI with the Awami League, Imran said his party was the "largest and sole federal party" and yet he was denied fresh elections by the government.

"Everyone knows Mujibur Rahman and his party won the general elections in 1970. Instead of handing over power, a clever politician set Awami League and the army on the collision course... at present, Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are playing a similar role as they are trying to conspire with the establishment to block the PTI's journey back to power," he alleged.

Speaking at the rally, Imran Khan also challenged former Pakistan prime minister and leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) Nawaz Sharif to an electoral contest. "Nawaz Sharif I challenge you: when you come back, I will beat you in your constituency!" he thundered.

In the same breath, Khan took former president and Pakistan People's Party leader Asif Ali Zardari to the task and said that he would be descending on Sindh because the province needed "liberation from his rule…Sindh needs haqiqi azadi, more than any other province".

The PTI plans to stay on the road for the next ten days before reaching the federal capital – its destination.

A party insider commented on the snail pace of the march and said that the PTI chief was engaged in a "battle of nerves" hoping the establishment and the Pakistan's federal government would cave in to his demand for fresh polls.

Khan was voted into power in 2018 on an anti-corruption platform by an electorate weary of dynastic politics.

But his mishandling of the economy -- and falling out with a military accused of helping his rise -- sealed his fate.


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