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Pakistan's Ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan Hits Out At Punjab Govt For 'Double Standards'

Pakistan's ousted prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday slammed the caretaker government of Punjab for its double standards, saying it was giving a free hand to his political rivals to hold public rallies while illegally stopping his party from running the election campaigns.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
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Pakistan's ousted prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday slammed the caretaker government of Punjab for its "double standards", saying it was giving a "free hand" to his political rivals to hold public rallies while illegally stopping his party from running the election campaigns. Khan, 70, said the PMLN-led federal coalition, Punjab caretaker setup and the military establishment were trying to delay the elections in Punjab province. "The cabal of crooks are trying their best to postpone the elections in Punjab scheduled to be held on April 30. They want to arrest me as they have instituted 80 fake cases against me," he said in a media talk on Sunday.

"I wonder how Maryam is getting away for launching a scathing attack on Pakistani judges as she has been a given a license to do so (by the establishment)," he said. He said the "double standards" of the government enabled Maryam to hold rallies while imposing a ban on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI). There has been a general impression in the political circles that PMLN leader Maryam Nawaz is so critical of apex court sitting judges these days because she has the backing of the most powerful man in the military establishment, which is openly supporting the federal coalition and caretaker set up in Punjab.

Khan, the chairman of the PTI, recently alleged that the “most powerful” person in the country (army chief) "is busy bulldozing court orders, sabotaging the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the attempt on my life, and now trying to cover up party worker Zille Shah’s death." "Those imposed criminals Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif on the nation are taking Pakistan towards complete disaster," he said.Khan urged the people to join his movement to defeat the "anti-Pakistan and anti-people forces".

Khan called off his party's planned election rally in Lahore after Punjab's caretaker government banned public gatherings in the provincial capital. In a televised address, Khan Saturday announced that he will lead an election campaign rally in Lahore on Sunday and urged his supporters and workers to participate in face of the police brutality purportedly committed against the PTI. Soon after his announcement, the local administration enforced Section 144 in the provincial capital and banned public gatherings, citing concerns in the wake of a Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket match in the city, Dawn newspaper reported.

Khan’s party approached Election Commission offices and the courts against the government's move, saying the imposition of Section 144 should be declared null and void. Later, in a surprise move, the cricketer-turned politician postponed the rally, calling on his workers to "not fall into this trap". "It seems again Sec 144 has been imposed illegally solely on PTI election campaign as all other public activities are ongoing in Lahore. Only Zaman Park has been surrounded by containers & heavy police contingent. Clearly, like 8 March, Punjab CM & police want to provoke clashes to file more sham FIRs against PTI ldrshp & workers & to use as pretext for postponing elections (sic),” Khan tweeted. 

He told his supporters "not to fall into this trap". "Hence, we have postponed rally till tomorrow," he tweeted. Later, senior party leader Hammad Azhar confirmed the postponement of the rally. "We want peaceful elections and peaceful transfer of power and it is possible that the rally might be held tomorrow," he told reporters. However, Punjab’s caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said that no ban had been imposed on political activities in the city. "All political parties are freely allowed to campaign,” he tweeted. "We have restricted rallies and political activities for today as we have a PSL cricket match, team movements, and marathon in Lahore,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja has summoned a meeting to discuss the situation. Earlier, the police blocked the roads leading to Khan’s Zaman Park residence. A heavy contingent of police was deployed on different routes. One activist of Khan’s party was killed on Wednesday during a crackdown on his supporters who gathered outside his residence in Lahore, defying a government ban on rallies in the city. Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.

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