PTI Chairman Imran Khan Friday invited the coalition government to hold negotiations with his party on the date of the election, warning them of dissolving the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies otherwise.
Citing the devastating economic situation as the reason behind PTI’s constant demand for fresh elections, Khan, in his address to the parliamentary party from his Lahore residence in Zaman Park, warned that the country is fast moving toward default.
“If we don’t head towards elections there won’t be stability in the country,” he warned, adding that the coalition government isn’t ready to talk about snap polls because they are scared of the results.
Khan — who called off his long march to Islamabad last week — had announced quitting assemblies across the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
The party's leadership, according to PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry, has approved the dissolution of assemblies in both provinces, but the final decision will be made after further consultations.
The former prime minister said that amid the ongoing political situation the PTI wasn’t bearing any losses, it was the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government who was being accused of all the devastations.
Citing the credit default risk — which now stands at 100% and was around 5% during PTI’s tenure — Khan highlighted that investors and businessmen have lost faith in the coalition government as they have failed to present an economic road map.
He lamented that overseas Pakistanis are reluctant to invest in Pakistan meanwhile the banks are refraining from giving loans to the local business community.
Recalling that 6% growth was recorded in the fiscal year 2021-22 — during which PTI was ousted from power through a no-confidence motion — Khan said that the economy was booming during PTI’s tenure but it has been facing challenges since the coalition government came into power in April.
The cricketer-turned-politician linked the increase in street crimes to the sky-high inflation, adding that the number of remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis is also declining, tax collection is shrinking, default risks are growing higher and higher, while “[Finance Minister] Ishaq Dar is sitting silently in a corner.”
Khan cited Pakistan as the reason behind his decision to dissolve assemblies, claiming that Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments have not been receiving funds from the Centre which is adding to their issues.
The PTI chief further revealed that if Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies were dissolved then elections will be held in two provinces around 66% of Pakistan would have to vote for the by-polls.
“Come and talk to us or do you want that election to be held in 66% of Pakistan while you continue to hold the federal government,” he said, offering the coalition government to hold negotiations.
"We have full backing from PML-Q. CM Punjab Chaudhry Pervez Elahi will disband the provincial assembly on my call,” he said.
In response to Khan's address, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leadership "will not refuse to hold dialogue".
“Talks against dialogue are considered non-political and undemocratic by the PDM. Its leadership will not refuse to sit and talk. We believe in resolving political matters in a political manner,” he said in a statement reacting to Khan’s invitation.
Sanaullah further added that when political parties and politicians sit down, deadlocks end and paths to resolve conflicts are found. He revealed that there have also been differences within the PDM on various matters.
The interior minister further added that the PDM leadership will not comment on the matter without consultations.
Recalling Khan’s previous statements regarding holding dialogue with the PDM, Sanaullah took a jibe saying: “Khan sahab would say that it is better to die than sit with them [PDM leadership].”
The interior minister added that the government’s opinion is in favour of conducting elections on time. He added that the government will condemn if PTI attempts to dissolve assemblies, even though it will favour the PML-N.
“We do not welcome the act of dissolving assemblies and consider it undemocratic. They can dissolve assemblies if they want to. They will be responsible for it,” the minister maintained.
“We will be in a better position to contest elections if they dissolve assemblies. If elections take place, we will defeat them in Punjab and get majority [seats],” the minister said, adding that the government will be in a better position if polls are held in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“If we contest the Punjab Assembly’s elections while being in the federal government, then we are in a better position," he explained.