Fight against corruption: PTI cranks up accountability drive amid fanfare

PTI chief Imran Khan addresses a public rally in Peshawar. PHOTO: INP

PTI chief Imran Khan addresses a public rally in Peshawar. PHOTO: INP

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf started a vociferous campaign on Sunday calling for the accountability of the ruling Sharif family which it blames for plundering national wealth and building a family fortune.

Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Ehtesab, or Accountability Movement, came a day after the Pakistan Awami Tehreek of populist cleric Allama Tahirul Qadri launched Tehreek-e-Qisas-o-Ehtesab, or Movement for Revenge and Accountability, by staging rallies in several cities of Punjab.

It was a carnival atmosphere. Thousands of PTI workers, donning caps of party colours and carrying flags, danced to drumbeats in Peshawar before heading for Attock in busses, lorries, trucks, and cars, and on motorcycles. Imran Khan, accompanied by senior party leaders, led his supporters in a purpose-built container truck as party songs were played on mobile sound system.

The main procession was joined in by PTI supporters from southern districts of Kohat, Karak, DI Khan and Hangu at Pir Zakori Bridge in Peshawar. Displaced tribesmen from North and South Waziristan agencies, who are currently living in camps in Bannu, also turned up in large numbers to participate in the PTI rally.

Addressing the cheering 

crowds in Peshawar, Imran said his party’s movement would not end until the ‘crooked rulers’ were held accountable for their corruption. “This is just a trailer, the match is about to begin, and it will not end until they are held accountable,” he warned.

The PTI has been calling for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to order a judicial inquiry into revelations in the Panama Papers that three scions of the Sharif family are among hundreds of world politicians, businessmen and showbiz and sports stars who have secreted their money in offshore tax havens.

Though the government has agreed to hold a judicial inquiry it has rejected the mode proposed by PTI and other opposition groups.  A parliamentary committee, having representation from the ruling and opposition parties, has been unable to narrow down differences on terms of reference (ToRs) for the proposed judicial inquiry in several sessions.

“Nawaz Sharif will never agree to the opposition’s ToRs because he knows that he will be caught,” the PTI chairman said, adding that he has mounted the container again after exhausting all options. Imran’s party staged a marathon 126-day-long sit-in at Islamabad’s D-Chowk in 2014 against alleged rigging by the PML-N in the 2013 elections.

Imran heaped scorn on the national taxman and the corruption watchdog for shutting their eyes to the corruption of the big fish, the Sharif family in particular, while taxing the poor and going after petty tax evaders. “The poor languish in jails on concocted charges while the rich and powerful are buying properties abroad with public money,” he added.

The National Accountability Bureau, which is meant to eliminate corruption from the country, is instead busy saving the corrupt ruling clique, including Nawaz Sharif and his aides, he said. “This clique steals Pakistanis’ money and ruins national institutions by assigning them to their blue-eyed people who can cover up its corruption.”

Corruption is gnawing at the very roots of the country. It is making the poor poorer, and the rich richer. Instead of improving education and healthcare systems, they are squandering the national wealth on mega infrastructure projects where they can embezzle money, Imran alleged. “This movement is the movement of every Pakistani who wants to banish the curse of corruption from the country.”

PTI’s senior leaders, including vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and MNAs and MPAs of the party were accompanying Imran in the rally. 

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