Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Saturday announced that the party will dissolve Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies on December 23 (Friday).
The former prime minister — during his address via a video link along with Chief Minister Punjab Parvez Elahi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Mehmood Khan — said the decision to "sacrifice" Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies was taken after consultations with lawyers, CMs, senior party leadership.
The PTI chief reiterated his demand for free and fair elections, warning the country might sink otherwise.
"Once we dissolve both the assemblies, we will hold elections in the provinces. Also, our 123-125 National Assembly members — whose resignations have not been accepted — will ask the speaker inside the assembly to accept their resignations," he said.
Following these moves, the ex-premier said as much as 66% of Pakistan would move towards elections and in line with the law, elections should take place within 90 days of the assemblies' dissolution.
He thanked both chief ministers for "sacrificing" their respective governments for the "betterment of the country" and announced that his party would now be starting its election campaign.
Prior to this announcement, reports suggested issues emerged between the PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) on the date of dissolution; however, the chief minister refuted the rumours and vowed that he would back "all of Imran Khan's decisions".
He also warned the government against employing tactics to delay the elections and said: "I have also spoken to my lawyers [...] it would be against the rules to delay the polls past 90 days."
In response, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs Qamar Zaman Kaira reiterated that the government's stance still stands — elections for assemblies that will be dissolved and by-polls on the constituencies that are vacated.
He blamed former chief of army staff General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa for being involved in the “conspiracy” hatched against his party.
“Ex-COAS Gen Bajwa is the only person responsible for bringing down the PTI government,” the former prime minister claimed during his address.
At the outset of his address, the PTI chief said he wanted to inform the people about why did he decide to dissolve the assemblies in both the provinces where his party ruled.
The cricketer-turned-politician said he provided all the details to the courts about his assets just like every common man in Pakistan — unlike the ones who "loot" the money of the masses and siphon it abroad.
"All their money, business, and children are abroad. They are living a luxurious life in Pakistan after looting the money of the nation," Khan said, claiming that he never thought that he could ever live anywhere else except Pakistan.
The PTI chief added that he "foresaw the removal of his government" and was aware that some elements wanted to impose Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister.
"General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa told me that he did not want this (Shehbaz becoming PM to happen). So who is responsible? Will anyone tell me this? Gen (retd) Bajwa would tell me that the [ incumbent rulers] are corrupt."
But not conceding defeat, Imran said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) move to remove him "was in my favour" as I have received "unprecedented respect".
“Gen (retd) Bajwa thought the PM and Ishaq Dar are geniuses and will manage the country,” the PTI chairman said, adding that the former army chief realised the nation’s support for Khan’s party after toppling the government.
The former prime minister further said that his party’s popularity increased after April, following his ouster from the government due to a no-confidence motion moved by the then-opposition.
“We haven’t seen such cruelty even during Gen (retd) Musharraf’s time after what Gen (retd) Bajwa did to us,” he said.
The PTI chief said that for the first time in his life, he "fears" that the "corrupt gang" imposed on the country was taking the nation towards destruction.
"You can ask any industrialist, labour, and farmer; their finances cannot be managed amid the ongoing economic situation," he added.
Shedding light on the record-high inflation — which clocked in at 23.8% in November — he said that Pakistan witnessed 50-year high inflation after the incumbent government came into power. "They washed away all the hard work we did," he lamented.
The PTI chief recalled that the economy — including industries, taxes, exports, and agriculture — witnessed a boost during his party's government, which lasted for nearly four years.
"But this government has not been even able to progress in one sector. Given the situation in the country, 750,000 people have gone abroad," Khan said lambasting the ruling coalition.
The ex-prime minister lamented that the hundreds of thousands of people who left Pakistan were skilled workers and their absence will hurt the country in the long run.
But Khan further lamented that his government — which was ousted in April — worked hard to revive the economy that was on the brink of default when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) left the government in 2018.
"We even revived the economy that was devastated due to COVID — which wreaked havoc across the country. We introduced [...] incentives for all sectors to ensure that they do not suffer."
The PTI chief mentioned that the growth witnessed during his party's tenure was last seen during three previous governments — former army dictators General (retd) Ayub Khan, General Zia-ul-Haq, and General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
"All these growth targets were achieved because we were hand-in-hand with America on several fronts. So, who was behind all this regime change operation? Why were these corrupt elements brought into power?"
Khan highlighted that foreign direct investment, remittances, tax, and exports have all decreased. "Foreign investors do not trust the coalition government. We do not have dollars to repay energy debt, foreign debt [...] they [coalition government] do not even have a plan except seeking loans from China."
He said loans were not enough as it is tantamount to treating cancer with disprin. "The only solution to it is through wealth creation. If you create wealth, you can ensure that you don't have to beg for loans the next time."
Blaming the government for mishandling the country’s economy, Khan said: “Had they managed the economy well, we would have been fine with them completing the term, but the country is going down. Everything is going down in the country. I’m afraid [Pakistan] is moving toward default.”
Questioning the government about its roadmap, the PTI chief said that the government will not even conduct elections in October ."
"The election commission is conniving with them. A very dishonest man is involved with them, who will tell them ways to delay elections,” Khan said while attacking the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The PTI chief added that even after the Supreme Court of Pakistan agreed for the elections to be held, it was this same ECP that refused to conduct elections for seven months.
“The Constitution of Pakistan says that the ECP should always be ready to conduct elections in 90 days. I know that it will try its best to not do so,” he said.
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