Hundreds of thousands of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters took to the streets across the country on the call of party chairman and former Prime Minister Imran Khan, to stage a protest against rising inflation and to trigger up the intensity of the anti-government campaign, demanding immediate elections and removal of the current ruling coalition of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
The protesters carried banners and slogans against the ruling government, raising serious and major concerns over the policy decision, which they say were made under pressure of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), pushing Pakistanis into the severe financial crisis and the country into a tsunami of inflation.
“I can see the inflation is set to rise further and the country is headed towards becoming the next Sri Lanka, which is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence,” Khan said.
“I call on the people to take to the streets against inflation for their own good and ramp up their struggle against the imported government,” he added while addressing the protest rallies through video link.
Big screens were installed at various protest sites in different parts of the country.
Khan said its high time for the people to realize and understand the agenda behind his ouster and the “slave to the west” approach by this government.
“I have called you to protest against price hike as it in your own favour. The poor class, including salaried people, farmers and labourers, will suffer more because of the inflation.
“I will give you a call for the protest again, which will be continued until we get the date of the free and transparent elections. We do not want just elections, we want free and fair elections,” he added.
Rejecting the government’s claims that he had laid landmines for them by reducing petroleum and gas prices by 10 PKR, the PTI chair said that it had increased petrol and diesel prices by just a few rupees in comparison to the increase by Shehbaz Sharif’s administration by 100 PKR within a span of weeks.
Khan said he refused to bow down to the IMF demands while staying in the programme because it would have negative impact on the people.
The former premier has demanded the government to announce immediate elections in the country and let the people decide who they want as their leader.
He has also vowed to call for a mass protest sit-in against in the coming days, which he says will not end until this “imported government, brought into power through a regime change and a US-led conspiracy”, announces the early elections.
Khan said people have rejected the current political setup and have also rejected decisions that have plunged the nation into severe economic crisis.