Layyah - PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that country will have no future if current rulers were re-imposed on the country in the by-elections.

Addressing a rally in Layyah as part of canvassing for the by-elections on 20 seats in Punjab due on July 17, Imran said a ‘big change’ was around the corner that will put to bed the ‘[political] future of turncoats’.

He asked PTI workers and supporters to canvass diligently. He urged his followers to prevent the government’s plans of rigging the elections by “keeping a watch on polling stations”.

“Their Mr X who is based in Lahore is meeting Maryam and Punjab CM Hamza to temper the election results and bring these back to power,” Imran alleged.

The PTI chief asked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to reduce the prices of petroleum products in line with the dip in crude prices in the global market.

“Today, the price of oil are much lower in the global market so you (the PM) should bring down the petrol price to Rs150 per litre and diesel to Rs144 per litre,” he demanded.

He also called out the government for raising the tariff of electricity to Rs35 per unit “contrary to the rate of Rs15 per unit during the PTI rule”.

He accused PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal of using intelligence agencies to pressure and extract an apology out of a family that had heckled him at a restaurant last week.

Iqbal, the minister for planning and development, was jeered by the family on Friday night when he was out in public. Viral videos of the incident circulating online showed women and teenagers chanting anti-government slogans and hurling abuses at the minister, loudly calling him “chor”.

n July 17 by-polls your first test, Imran warns ‘powerful quarters’

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has urged the country’s “powerful quarters” to hold free and fair elections, saying their “first test” will be July 17, the date for much-hyped by-elections in Punjab.

“Today, I’m giving a message to all of Pakistan and to those who hold power in this country. If you won’t let free and fair elections be held then I have no doubt that the country will be moving towards embarrassment,” Imran said in an apparent message to the establishment during a rally in Layyah on Tuesday.

“Whoever is worried about the country today, all of them are saying the same thing that you hold free and fair elections and your first test will be on July 17. The entire nation will be watching,” he added.

The former premier said that all these people are peaceful despite where the country stands today as he points towards the participants of the rally. “These people do not want to hurt their country. They are out because they want a better future. I have a message for all. There is only one way to stop the country from going down and that is free and fair elections,” he added.

At the beginning of his address, Imran lauded the presence of a large number of women among the participants, saying that he wanted youth, particularly women to participate in the ‘real’ Pakistan movement. “I am looking towards the youth. This country is yours, the future is yours.”

He also said that despite the passage of 75 years, Pakistan still has not been able to get real freedom as we have been ruled by the US “slaves” most of the time.

“When a country cannot take decisions for the betterment of its people, that is slavery. The rulers sacrifice the rights of their own citizens for some other countries,” he added.

Imran also said that when Pakistani rulers decided to participate in the war on terror, it was not for the betterment of Pakistanis rather it was done to please the US.

“As a result, 80,000 Pakistan got martyred and 3.5 million from tribal areas had to move elsewhere in the country. But despite our efforts, the US attacked Pakistan with 400 drone missiles. When tribal area people lost their women and children they took revenge against Pakistan. No one asked what we had to do with the US war. It was only because our rulers were fearful of the US.”

He said that he was asked whether Pakistan will give bases to the US. “You all know what my answer was. It was what my ideology is. We’re an independent country. It is not in our interest to participate in their war.”

The former premier said that Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif had their money in a foreign country so they could never condemn 400 drone attacks in Pakistan which occurred during their tenure.

“I went to Russia because I knew there was global inflation. Oil prices were high and we needed wheat and gas. We talked about purchasing wheat and gas. Our petroleum minister asked them that we wanted to purchase petrol at a 30 per cent cheaper rate.”

Imran claimed that the US did not like his visit to Russia and conspired against his government and used its “slaves” to overthrow the regime. “Soon after, the US embassy started calling our people. Many lotas also went there,” he added.

He said that when the government was overthrown, the country was on the rise. “Pakistan grew the fastest during our last two years in power, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan. We had record exports, we had record remittances, we collected the most tax in Pakistan’s history, the industry was also on the rise, we had production in the textile sector, we made policies for farmers and we also controlled the sugar mafia.”

The PTI chief said that there was a record crop in Pakistan as the farmers were happy with the policies of the government, adding that poverty was on the decline in rural areas.

“We gave the most number of jobs to the people. When this was happening and we were on the rise, they conspired and overthrew the government.”

Saying that the PTI government was also engaged with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for 2.5 years, Imran said that his government never increased the prices like the incumbent government.

“On the contrary, we reduced prices of petrol and diesel. Pakistan was the world’s cheapest country to live in during our tenure. We gave subsidies. Petrol was at Rs150 and diesel at Rs140 when we left.”

He dared Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to lower the prices of petrol and diesel as the tariffs in the international market had reduced. “You should bring petrol at R150 and diesel at Rs140. We also reduced the electricity tariff. We too were in the IMF programme but despite that we reduced the prices. We also introduced the health card which was a revolutionary step in the history of Pakistan,” he said and added that the world acknowledged PTI’s Ehsaas Programme

Imran Khan said that he will never accept “thief” Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister of Pakistan. “I say [the video] that Ahsan Iqbal goes to McDonald’s and was rightfully called a thief. Later, the family was forced to apologise due to the pressure from an agency. Today, I am here telling you [Ahsan] that you’re a big dacoit and your leader is also a big dacoit.”

The PTI leader went on to say that the history of Pakistan will never forgive those who took part in the conspiracy. “These thieves were brought at a time when Pakistan was on the rise. On July 17, a big change is going to occur in this country. You have to defeat the lotas. I am assigning everyone here to go door-to-door and ask people to vote for us.”

The former prime minister claimed that if Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari only bring 50 per cent of their wealth back to Pakistan, the country will never need to ask for money from anyone.

“For the money, they will accept Israel, they will ignore the sacrifices of Kashmiris. India is purchasing cheap oil from Russia because it has an independent foreign policy.”

Imran said that the entire nation had risen against the thieves who will try to rig the July 17 by-election, urging the participants to stop them.