LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has made another prediction regarding the general elections and stated that he does not see immediate fresh polls.
A few days ago, the former prime minister had predicted fresh polls in the country by March, April 2023.
Talking to media persons, including the newly-elected body of Lahore Press Club that called on him on Wednesday at Zaman Park, Imran Khan stated that a new issue of technocrat caretaker set-up was being trumpeted these days. “There is hearsay about a technocrat government being brought forward.”
The back stage elements need to show consent for the fresh elections. Rather than the incumbent government, it is necessary for those “backing it” to get convinced for the polls to be held soon, he added.
Imran, to a question, stated that he had no contact with the establishment and warned that the situation could be worrisome if next elections were engineered. Citing the example of Bangladesh, he said that the East Pakistan debacle occurred because the mandate of the winning party was not respected.
On the occasion, the PRI chief further said that corruption cases of Rs1,100 billion were quashed through amendments in the NAB laws. He stated both PMLN and PPP had stakes outside Pakistan, not here, asking: “How could we sign Charter of Economy with them.”
He also grilled the leadership of Pakistan Democratic Movement and stated the the multiparty alliance had become a ‘drawing room party’.
Imran Khan once again came hard on former Chief of the Army Staff Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and stated he did great harm to Pakistan that brought us close to default.
To a question, Imran said the PTI had good working relationship with Gen Bajwa but the corruption of politicians was meaningless before his.
“Gen Bajwa did great injustice to this country, we are standing close to default,” he said, underlining how Pakistan’s threat to default has increased to 90 percent, which was 5 percent during his government.
He added that Pakistan’s problems could not be resolved without the rule of law.
Imran congratulated the Lahore Press Club’s newly-elected body.
Meanwhile, during a news conference in Islamabad, PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry said the establishment made the mistake of supporting the regime change operation in Pakistan on pressure from the outside and now there was a talk of installing a regime of technocrats.
Fawad came hard on the incumbent rulers and billed them as a coterie of jokers. He made it clear that they would never accept a government of technocrats and that steps outside the Constitution be strongly resisted.
“The establishment made the mistake of supporting the regime change operation on the outside pressure and sent packing a stable, good government. The establishment should concede its mistake. And, this change has destroyed the country’s political, social and economic fibre,” he contended.
Neither these people, he alleged, have any understanding and this government is the name of making foreign visits and managing their corruption cases under an NRO. However, he emphasised that without Imran Khan, politics in Pakistan was barren as he was a national leader.
He claimed that during the eight-month government, earlier dollars were not available and now gold was not available because people were buying it. He regretted that the day they decide to go to National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to resign, he runs away from there. “Today, the NA speaker asked PTI Parliamentary Party leader Malik Amir Dogar to visit him tomorrow (Thursday) night and then also said that he had to go to Australia the same night.”
Fawad said that all the ministers, members of the National Assembly and speaker of the present government go on foreign tours and going on foreign trips has been given the name of the government.
He claimed that terrorism had increased by 52 percent but the government does not know, while the Taliban from Margalla Hills made a video of Parliament and said that they were coming. He added that if the situation in Afghanistan worsens, it will also affect Pakistan. “If you hit someone with missiles and bombs, there will be an answer and not everyone is like the PTI; those who have weapons will use it.”
Fawad pointed out that the United States, China, Australia and Saudi Arabia have issued travel advisories for Pakistan. The countries have asked their diplomatic staff not to go to five-star hotels while the issue of Afghanistan was not discussed in any cabinet meeting nor the merged areas of erstwhile Fata were considered.
On the country’s problems, he said that Pakistan’s problems are not such that any imported technocrat could come and solve them. “If a technocrat from America is brought here and he takes a tough decision, then due to public pressure, he will run away.”
Meanwhile, a purported audio call between Fawad and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s close aide Zulfiqar Ahmed came to the fore on Wednesday, wherein the two were allegedly discussing a message hinting at the possibility of talks between the PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN).
Responding to Fawad, Ahmed said that he hasn’t read the “lengthy message” and what should he do with it.
“Send it to Suleman and tell him that politicians should talk to one another and form a framework,” he allegedly said, asking Ahmed to forward the “message” to Suleman Shehbaz, son of Premier Shehbaz, about the formation of a framework following talks between politicians.
Talking against “relying on soldiers” for negotiations, Fawad said: “We are always watching the soldiers and keep thinking what they will do.”
“Ask them [PMLN] what concessions they want from the PTI,” Imran Khan-led party’s leader said, according to the purported audio call, insisting that political parties should pursue dialogue with one another rather than looking towards the “soldiers” for intervention.
Later in the alleged call, the PTI leader is heard telling PM Shehbaz’s friend to even send the message to the prime minister. Fawad purportedly said that he will share a shorter message with Ahmed to be sent to the premier. The prime minister’s aide, in the alleged call, told Fawad that he thinks his party’s leader will be disqualified, responding to which the PTI leader said: “Even if they do, it’ll be [a matter of] ranting. What’s the point?”
Following its several, not-so-successful attempts to pressurise the PDM ruling coalition in the Centre for early elections, the PTI is now steering towards the possibility of talks with the PMLN.
Before Fawad’s alleged audio surfaced, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke about the party’s willingness to play a role in parliament but claimed the government was not ready to make a serious commitment in this regard. Issuing a statement, Qureshi said that the PTI was ready to play a parliamentary role, but the government was not announcing a date for general elections.
Federal Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah Khan, meanwhile, said that the Imran Khan-project was launched through ultra-constitutional means.
Talking to anchorperson Shahzeb Khanazada in Geo News show Aaj Shahzeb Khanazada Kay Sath, the minister said that a fitna person (Imran) was installed in politics that destroyed the country.
He added that democracy, politics and tolerance cannot progress in the country in the presence of Imran Khan, adding that the PTI chief propagates rumours and other concoctions on daily basis with the sole aim of pushing the country to instability.
He said that Imran Khan should come forward and tell who was talking of a technocrat set-up, adding that if there was any provision in the Constitution about such a set-up, it could happen.
The minister said that the government or the PTI didn’t get any vibes of a technocrat set-up. He said the establishment has made a commitment to remain neutral. He said that some benches (courts) do pass some remarks, adding that they cannot blame the judiciary or the establishment as an institution.
The interior minister said that blaming an institution was not appropriate; however there might be a couple of persons.
In a statement, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said people were suffering due to the wrong economic policies of Imran Khan-led government, which had resulted into extreme inflation and massive unemployment.
Marriyum said ironically Imran had the audacity to blame those for economic woes who gave him the national economy with 6.3 percent growth rate.
The information minister said it was astonishing as to why the PTI was not dissolving assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
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