Thursday September 21, 2023

Imran says Qureshi to lead PTI if he’s disqualified

The PTI chief claims no clash with the army, as it’s his army; denies inciting activists to violence ever

By Asim Hussain & Our Correspondent
May 28, 2023
PTI Chairman Imran Khan (Right) and Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi (Left). — Twitter/@PTIOfficial
PTI Chairman Imran Khan (Right) and Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi (Left). — Twitter/@PTIOfficial

LAHORE/ ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has said PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi will lead the party in case of his disqualification by a court. “If I am disqualified, Shah Mehmood Qureshi will run the party,” Khan said on Saturday in a meeting with journalists and lawyers at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore. “In the event of my arrest, senior leaders like Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Pervez Khattak would manage the party affairs,” he added.

The PTI chief is facing a slew of cases ranging from corruption to terrorism since being ousted from power in April last year. Commenting on the mass departure of leaders from his party over the May 9 vandalism, the PTI chief put up a brave face, saying the situation was going to change soon. “I will give a big surprise in the coming days,” he added. Imran claimed that the challenging times for the PTI would soon come to an end.

Khan said some party leaders were leaving the party under compulsion while some had been exposed.

Calling youth a major asset to his party, Khan said the party ticket was their right and added that the PTI would win the next general election despite large-scale desertions.

He also called for holding a referendum to gauge the popularity of his party among the masses.

Amid rumours about the PTI-backed president’s resignation, Khan said Arif Alvi would continue working according to the Constitution.

The PTI chief claimed that a conspiracy had been hatched to “arrest, disqualify, and even assassinate me”.

Responding to allegations that he directed his party workers to attack the military installations, the PTI chief rejected the claims saying he never issued instructions for violence and vandalism.

“I swear that I never encouraged violence or vandalism among our workers. It was all a trap to implicate me,” he said. He argued that such widespread violence could not have occurred without prior planning, pointing out that no such incidents had taken place when he was targeted with gunshots.

“Everything was orchestrated against us. Why would we resort to vandalism when we were winning in public?” Imran questioned.

He also maintained that he had no clash with the military, saying: “There is no fight with the army, this army is mine.” The former PM hit out at the coalition government for “destroying” the country’s economy and reiterated that there was no solution to the prevailing crisis except for elections.

Responding to a question, Imran mentioned that the PTI leadership was making efforts to secure the release of detained workers. He said a meeting with lawyers had been scheduled for Sunday to discuss the release initiatives.

Meanwhile, without having been given any offer or even a signal by the government, the PTI unilaterally formed a seven-member negotiation committee on Saturday.

A notification, carrying the signature of PTI Secretary-General Omar Ayub, was issued by the party’s Central Media Department in Islamabad, which says that under instructions from PTI Chairman Imran Khan, a committee has been formed to hold negotiations on behalf of the party.

The committee members are Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pervez Khattak, Asad Qaiser, Haleem Adil Sheikh, Aun Abbas, Murad Saeed, and Hammad Azhar.

The PTI chairman had offered an olive branch to the decision-makers in the country on Friday, saying that now is the time that all the institutions sit down together with the ‘biggest federal party’ and try to find solutions to problems because Pakistan is heading fast towards destruction.

He had made this offer during his speech to his supporters via video link and warned: “If we do not take the steps now, then it will reach that point where no one will be able to do anything, as the situation is about to get out of hand.” However, the offer apparently went unheeded by the government.

Earlier, the PTI chairman had notified Omar Ayub as the party’s secretary general in place of Asad Umar, who resigned from the slot the other day. Likewise, he made Rauf Hassan central information secretary of the PTI, as Farrukh Habib had been notified as regional president.

Meanwhile, PTI senior leader Hammad Azhar alleged that the PDM government had ruined the fast-thriving economy of the country and termed the reports about reliance on single bilateral support from China to avoid a default as alarming.

In a statement, the PTI senior leader termed reports that PM Shehbaz Sharif had told traders that the IMF programme was off the table and reliance would be on China to avoid a default alarming. He contended that single-bilateral support was in no way enough to meet our external debt obligations.