PTI leader says some elements exacerbating rift between the former ruling party and institutions
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry Monday said the party will dissolve the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies on December 21 if election talks do not materialise by December 20.
In an interview with a private news channel, the former information minister said: "They [coalition parties in the Centre] are afraid of holding elections as they fear the PTI will win.”
Reiterating PTI chief Imran Khan’s claims that party has full support of its ally, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Fawad said that Chief Minister Punjab Pervez Elahi and his son Moonis Elahi also want the assembly's dissolution and elections within 90 days after they are dissolved.
"Pervez Elahi and Monis Elahi have assured us that they will dissolve the assembly whenever we ask," the former federal minister said amid the PML-Q leaders' remarks which are in contrast to the PTI leadership.
Despite back-to-back deadlines of Khan to dissolve assemblies, Punjab's chief minister said that he did not see elections taking place in the next four months.
In an interview, he said: "Elections cannot be held before four months; the federal and provincial governments need time to work and the elections may be delayed even after October next year."
Fawad confirmed that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar held two meetings with President Arif Alvi — a PTI loyalist.
"Dar told the president that [the government] is ready for elections, but they first need to consult [PML-N supremo] Nawaz Sharif," the former information minister revealed.
He further stated: “Dar said he would consult Nawaz and inform President Alvi. However, he hasn't responded yet and we are still waiting.”
In a press conference earlier, Fawad had confirmed that PTI and the coalition government were indeed holding talks.
In the news conference, the senior PTI leader said that the party sought "betterment" in ties with the armed forces and judiciary, not "deterioration" of their relationship.
In another press conference in Islamabad, Fawad said: "We are seeing that constantly, despite our efforts for betterment, [there is] deterioration in ties with the judiciary and the armed forces. Some elements are exacerbating the differences."
The PTI said the country's leadership should ensure that human rights violations should be stopped immediately. "The way in which the law was violated in the last seven to eight months should end."
The ex-federal minister said that after the registration of the first information reports (FIR) against Senator Azam Swati — who is behind bars in the case of controversial tweets — FIRs are also being lodged against party leader Shahbaz Gill.
"We have serious concerns over this. We believe that despite our attempts to better the ties, someone, or maybe the federal government is trying to worsen the situation."
Meanwhile, in the interview, Fawad said the PTI "did not receive help from the establishment" in the 2018 general elections.
He said that the PTI would have won more seats in the 2018 general elections had the establishment not intervened. "In 2018, several of our candidates lost by a margin of just 1,000 votes."
"If PTI were among the losing parties in the elections in 2018, no one would sit in [Jahangir] Tareen's plane," Fawad said. He also rejected the claims that politicians became part of the PTI on someone's advice.
"In 2018, everybody saw the PTI as the winning party."
In his press conference, Fawad mentioned that the party's leaders are facing multiple cases and there were reports of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) mulling to start proceedings against Khan for his removal as party chief.
"The political scene in the country is incomplete without Khan," Fawad said, claiming that given the situation in the country, the party believes that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman might shift abroad.
Fawad further said although the situation is worsening, the PTI wants to move towards general elections and stresses that the government should not resort to any "unconstitutional" move when it comes to the formation of an interim government.
"In Pakistan, an interim government cannot stay [in power] after its stipulated time. The constitution does not allow it and we reject any proposal related to this," he said.
The PTI leader said when the party's lawmakers are mulling the strategy amid the no-confidence motion, a majority of them were of the opinion that they should not hand in their resignations.
"However, once Khan and the party decided, everyone saw that a historic 127 resignations were presented in the National Assembly and were accepted."
The former federal minister also said that there might be a difference of opinion between the lawmakers in the two provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the final call would be Khan's.
"In this regard, we have kicked off meetings. We have summoned Lahore's MNAs and MPAs to hear them out. Tomorrow, Khan has called a meeting of the party's senior leaders to mull the strategy relating to politics and assemblies' dissolution," he said.
He added that another crucial issue that Pakistan faces was that of the economy as the foreign exchange reserves — held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) — had fallen below $8 billion.