LAHORE: In a meeting with journalists yesterday, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that the PMLQ should merge with the PTI but discussions have yet to take place on it.
Looking relaxed and quite confident after pulling off Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s vote of confidence in the Punjab Assembly, Khan praised Moonis Elahi and said he stood by the PTI despite pressure by powerful quarters. “Moonis is a forward-looking young man and he could see the PTI’s political future and was able to convince the older leadership of his party.”
Khan also praised Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for having withstood threats and other pressure. He said that even his own members had a lot of offers, especially woman MPAs, but they refused and stood by their party when it came to the vote of confidence.
Khan said that fighting with the establishment is madness. On reconciliation with the army, Khan said that it is possible and he is willing to forgive the establishment and move on, whether it is the case of Azam Khan Swati or Shahbaz Gill or other things that took place since the vote of no-confidence against him because he genuinely believes that the military is the most organised institution and has the resources to stop smuggling of dollars, help in the crackdown against corruption and other things.
Khan recalled the army’s assistance and work during the Covid pandemic, in polio vaccination campaigns and in controlling locusts. He also said that the military establishment only needs directions by leaders. “Their role can be very positive when they move in the right direction.” To a question by this reporter on whether the military would get more space to meddle in politics if more role is given to it, he said that it cannot end overnight but leaders have to make sure that a direction is set on how to use the military to establish the rule of law. Per him, only the military can take the country out of the current quagmire if it works with all political stakeholders.
Khan said that the military can establish the rule of law and no institution should be above the law. He said that he was not willing to sit with the PDM because “they are looters who want an NRO”, which basically means they want to be above the law. He said they had no stakes in the country as their assets were stashed abroad, which was why they could also be pressurised by outside powers.
Talking about Balochistan and former FATA, Khan said he believed in political solutions and not military solutions. On being asked by this reporter about the crackdown against the media during the PTI’s tenure, Khan said he had nothing to do with it. “I have always taken the legal route when I have had problems with the media. I have a lot of tolerance for media criticism.”
The PTI chairman was very confident that after the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, the PDM would be left with no choice but to go for general elections. Khan believes that the current establishment will not support the government given the economic crisis. “If this government continues till August, Pakistan will be worse off than even Sri Lanka.” Khan said that whatever economic growth was achieved during the PTI tenure had all been undone by the PDM in less than a year.