Pilling up pressure on the collation government for early elections in the country, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday said that they would not dissolve the provincial assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa if the ruling alliance in Centre agreed to hold general elections across the country till end-March next year.
In an interview with a private TV channel, the PTI chief warned that they would dissolve the provincial assemblies in the two provinces immediately if their demand for early elections is not met.
“If they are ready for elections by the end of March, then we won't dissolve the assemblies. Otherwise, we want to conduct polls by dissolving the KP and Punjab assemblies,” Khan reiterated.
He added that his party won’t agree on a date after March and assemblies will be dissolved this month [December] if the government disagrees.
“How long will they take to decide? They either have to say yes or no. We have already decided,” the former premier said underlining his conditional stance on talks with the government on the election date.
“If they [government] want, we can talk to them about what date the elections can be held. There is no way elections can take place after the budget,” he said, adding that the government will take the country down this way.
“Do they want polls to take place in 66% of the country and then conduct general elections?” Khan questioned, suggesting they announce election date soon.
Commenting on PTI’s power in Punjab, the former premier said that the “game” is no longer in the hands of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Zardari as the Chief Minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervez Elahi stands with the PTI.
When asked if CM Elahi has given him a signed summary, Khan said that the chief minister has given him full authority to dissolve the assembly whenever he wills.
During the interview, the former prime minister also shared that he will be meeting his people from KP and Punjab in the next four to five days.
For the first time since spending three and a half years with former chief of army staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, PTI chief said: "Giving extension to him [Gen Bajwa] was my biggest mistake."
“I would trust whatever ex-COAS General Bajwa said. I would tell him that both of us are [thinking about] the country; our purpose is one — to save the country,” Khan said.
The former prime minister added that he didn’t know how he was being lied to and betrayed.
“I knew during the last days and also received a report from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about a game being played,” Khan said, adding that his informant from the IB would notify him verbally and not in writing following fears.
“I trust people. I even tell my children that a brave man doesn’t suspect anyone,” Khan said.
Recalling that he had conveyed his message via President Arif Alvi as well, Khan claimed that PTI had become stronger since April.
Khan, referring to the newly appointed Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, said that a new setup has come and “they should be given a chance.”
The cricketer-turned-politician further added that officials at Adiala Jail told PTI leader Shahbaz Gill, where he was kept after being arrested in a sedition case, that they were being pressurised.
“We know there were handlers behind what happened,” Khan claimed, adding that he told them that he was a public leader and was into power by the people “and I wasn’t raised in a military’s nursery.”
The former prime minister recalled that at first, he didn’t understand why were the powerful not held accountable; however, “I later understood that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) wasn’t in my control. It was in someone else’s control and the problem was that they didn’t consider corruption as a bad practice.”
“Those who are afraid of holding elections because they fear defeat want me to die,” he said referring to the attack on him on November 3 during PTI’s long march toward Islamabad.
The PTI chairman mentioned that they thought that number of supporters would reduce with time; however, the number of supporters grew with time.
He said: “[Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif is afraid that if I come into power his billions of dollars will be at risk.
“Nawaz and Zardari leave no chance to leave the country and run abroad,” he stated, adding that these two want to see me behind bars.
Accusing Zardari’s of being involved in corruption cases in the past, Khan said: “It is a sign of doomsday that Zardari is saying that I will be sent to jail by NAB.”
The PTI chief, regarding his less number of seats in Sindh, said that he would run a campaign in Sindh and will defeat Zardari.
Referring to the alleged conspiracies against his government, the PTI chairman said that implementation of the game plan hatched against him began after the removal of Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Accusing the ex-army chief of betrayal, Khan said that whenever he asked Bajwa about the conspiracy, he replied that they want continuity.
The former prime minister said that he complained to Bajwa that his allies were hinting that the army is forcing them to change their loyalty and you are saying that forces are "neutral".
He revealed that leaders from MQM-P and other parties had also told them about the ex-COAS Gen Bajwa’s role.
“We were astonished that they were telling me something else and we were getting other signals from there [allies],” Khan said.
Khan went on to say that granting an extension to General Bajwa was a “big mistake”.
Commenting on his past decision, the former prime minister said: “Even then I thought no one in the military should be given an extension, but such circumstances were created that I had to take this decision.
"After the extension decision, I felt that they [army] started talking to the PML-N.”
The PTI chief said that he believes the army has also given some assurance to the PML-N and added that he knew they have decided to remove him after Lt General Hamid was removed as the chief of ISI.
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