For unity’s sake, Imran ends sit-in

ISLAMABAD - In the backdrop of gruesome Peshawar school massacre, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Wednesday announced to end its 126-day long sit-in at the Constitution Avenue of the capital to give a clear message that the whole nation stands united against terrorism.

Taliban attackers on Tuesday killed 146 people, 132 of them schoolchildren, in a cowardly attack that has brought all the political parties on the same page as they also resolved to put in all energies against terrorism at national moot convened by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Peshawar on Wednesday.

“After the Corps Commander Peshawar’s briefing of today (on terrorism attack on Peshawar school) in which we were sensitised about the whole situation, I have come to the conclusion that keeping in view the situation of the country, we will have to end the sit-in,” PTI chief Imran Khan said while addressing from the top of his container parked at the D Chowk of the Constitution Avenue.

But at the same time, Khan asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that he should immediately sit with his party and form the judicial commission to launch an investigation into the rigging of last general election. “Now PM Nawaz Sharif should move a step ahead,” Khan said and warned the government that otherwise they would again be forced to come on roads to get justice.

Some of the PTI supporters present at protest venue became infuriated over this announcement and scuffled with one another. They said that they would not allow Imran Khan to go from there as they had been protesting for the last four months but party chief ended the sit-in without achieving the objectives.

Though some political observers see the announcement of Imran as his retreat and a face saving saying that most of the party leadership had got tired of the sit-in that had started on the night of August 15 in Islamabad, yet Khan gave the impression he was doing this as the nation needed unity at this critical juncture of time.

Before making this announcement, Imran Khan convened the Core Committee of the party inside his shipping containers and PTI sources said that all the leaders were unanimous that party should end the sit-in keeping in view the situation emerging out of the deadly terrorist attack in Peshawar. Earlier, Khan had summoned the Core Committee meeting on Wednesday evening at his residence in Bani Gala but he before leaving for Islamabad from Peshawar asked all the members of the committee to come at his container for the meeting.

“It is the need of the hour that the government should not be opposed at this moment,” Khan said, adding that now Nawaz Sharif should come to the expectation of the masses who wanted investigation into rigging in last general elections. “We want resumption of talks from where these were ended,” he said. The masses want that Nawaz Sharif should immediately form commission and investigate the matter, he said and added the democracy would move ahead with this step.

“If it is proved that the election was not rigged, we will accept you the PM and if rigging proved then re-election would have to be held,” he said. “If the culprits of election rigging are brought to book and electoral reforms are introduced, new Pakistan will come into being,” he said. He said that they would not sit idle until juice is achieved. “This (ending sit-in) is our (positive) gesture and if we did not get justice, it would be difficult for the government to run its affairs,” he warned.

“Why we passed our four months and a week here (at the Constitution Avenue) and struggled hard to get justice in election rigging,” he asked and then himself replied, “We did this after all doors of justice were closed for us.” He said it was their conviction that as long as culprits involved in the rigging are not brought to justice no electoral reforms would be ensure transparent elections in future.

“We demanded resignation of PM then withdrew it and after this decided to shut down three cities... We have street power and we can shut down cities (again),” he reminded and added that party membership has grown so large in the last four months that they can shut down cities whenever they want.

PTI chief informed his supporters that Corps Commander in its briefing informed about the whole scenario and also told that the terrorists from across the border were involved in the attack on school. He condemning the terrorist act said he had never seen such an incident where children were killed intentionally through planning. ‘Such incidents happen in the countries like US but mad persons used to kill children.” He said that human mind could not even think the way these children were killed.

Khan said that in principle they should not have accepted the invitation of PM to attend Wednesday’s parliamentary parties meeting because the government had been badly mistreating them during their protests. “But the demand of time is that country should be united and because of the same reason I attended the meeting,” he said.

PTI chief said that they had fully supported the government on the issue of fight against terrorism and they were ready to support it in future. “We will contribute in the committee that will give its final program to the government within seven days to end the menace of terrorism,” he said. Imran Khan said that during the last four months, the nation had woken up and the people have understood their rights. Before concluding his speech, he thanked his supporters including women and children for participating in the sit-in “The time will tell that your struggle had changed Pakistan... now the people are ready to stand against injustice... we will come on roads if we did not get justice, “ he concluded.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt