Imran ready for talks 'with anyone in power' after back-to-back blows

PTI chairman says he will form committee for negotiations tomorrow amid party leaders' mass departure

By Web Desk
May 24, 2023
PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses his supporters in Lahore, on May 24, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/PTI

Following a mass departure of leaders from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) due to the May 9 vandalism, party chairman Imran Khan Wednesday expressed willingness to negotiate with "anyone who is in power".

Khan, while addressing his supporters, said: "I am forming a committee tomorrow. It will talk to 'anyone who is in power' on two things — if it helps the country according to 'them', I will leave politics. Second, how is it beneficial for the country if elections are held in October."

"Convince us on these two things. If they believe and satisfy the committee that my leaving politics will benefit the country, I will step back and leave politics," he said.

A slew of leaders has been leaving the PTI after party workers ransacked and burnt military installations, including the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, following Khan's arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case earlier this month.

The latest setback the party suffered was earlier today when outspoken PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said he was parting ways with Khan, just a day after Shireen Mazari, who held the same post, quit.

As many as 30 PTI leaders — from all four provinces — have left and more are expected to follow suit, with thousands of workers behind bars for their alleged involvement in the vandalism.

Without specifying, the former prime minister said "they" have benefitted from the arson at the Lahore Corps Commander House (Jinnah House) and used it to crack down on his party.

"[Such] a crackdown has never been seen in the history of the country,” he said.

"They have jailed the entire leadership and even those who are not even a part of the party. There is only one way out, that they utter the magic words of ‘I am leaving PTI'."

'Last ball'

PTI leaders — Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Maleeka Bokhari, Musarrat Jamshed Cheema, and others — have been rearrested minutes after they were released on bail.

Meanwhile, law enforcers are still arresting the suspects in the cases.

In light of these fears, Khan said he has advised his people to go into hiding.

"I am telling my workers and office bearers that there is no need for you to come out. Don’t stay at your home, hide," Khan — who was ousted from power in April last year — said.

But he asked the nation to not give in to pressure and ensure that they would keep fighting for the country's survival, as it faces uphill tasks on several fronts, especially the economy.

"I am ready for anything they throw at me. I will fight till the last ball."