Sunday March 26, 2023

My gift, my choice: Imran Khan

April 19, 2022
Imran Khan after talking to journalists at Banigala on April 18, 2022. Photo: Twitter/PTIOfficial
Imran Khan after talking to journalists at Banigala on April 18, 2022. Photo: Twitter/PTIOfficial

ISLAMABAD: Contradicting the military's statement, former prime minister Imran Khan on Monday insisted the establishment that gave him three options.

He made these remarks during an informal conversation with journalists in Islamabad. Imran Khan said, “The army chief and the ISI director general visited the PM Office at their request to play the role of mediator.”

In his Thursday’s press briefing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar had said that the PM Office had contacted the military leadership to help break the deadlock between the Opposition and the government.

The options of facing the no-confidence motion, PM’s resignation and the dissolution of assemblies after withdrawal of the motion were discussed there, the ISPR DG had said, adding that the ex-prime minister had declared the third option as “acceptable”.

Imran Khan, however, said, "The establishment gave me the three options, so I agreed with the election proposal. How could I accept the resignation and no-confidence suggestion?” To a question about the military, Imran Khan said he would not say anything that will harm the country. “I am not saying anything because Pakistan needs a strong and united army. We are a Muslim country and a strong army is a guarantor of our security.”

The former prime minister said that the military was onboard over the Russia visit, and he had telephoned Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa before the visit, adding, "Gen Bajwa said we must visit Russia.”

Imran Khan also broke his silence over the Toshakhana gifts controversy, saying whatever he took from the treasury was on record.

The issue came to light last week when Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that Imran Khan, during his tenure, sold Toshakhana gifts in Dubai worth Rs140 million.

According to reports, the former premier received 58 gifts worth more than Rs140 million from the world leaders during his three-and-a-half-year stint and retained all of them either by paying a negligible amount or even without any payment.

Responding to the allegations, Imran Khan said: "I deposited a gift given by a president at my residence (in Toshakhana). Whatever I took from Toshakana is on record. I purchased the gifts after paying 50% of the cost."

He said that the PTI government changed the policy of retaining gifts and increased the price from 15 per cent to 50 per cent.

He said: "Mera tohfa, meri marzi (my gift, my choice)."

"Had I wanted to make money, I would have declared my house as a camp office, but I did not," he added.

He said no case of corruption or scandal surfaced against his past government, and challenged that if there was any (wrong) deal, it should be presented.

He added that military personnel get plots in Defence Housing Authority (DHA), so they can do whatever they will.

To a question about his spouse’s close, Farah Khan, Imran asked that neither she had any post nor any ministry, then how could she receive money? However, he added that if anyone had any evidence in this connection, it should be brought forward.

About the foreign funding case against his party, filed by founding member of PTI Akbar S Babar in November 2014, the former premier denied his party received foreign funds, saying it was a false case filed by a person, who had been ousted from the party.

He claimed that no party other than PTI had maintained record of its funding, demanding hearing of all foreign funding cases together.

The former prime minister again admitted that the filing of a reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa was a "mistake".

"The reference against the SC judge should not have been filed, I have no personal enmity with anyone, it was sent by the law ministry."

He added that the then law minister had briefed on Justice Isa's properties and assets. The PTI chairman also said that they should not have gotten into an unnecessary confrontation with the judiciary.

About the party's public rallies in Peshawar and Karachi after his ouster from the government, Imran Khan said: "I have never seen such a large number of people coming out in Pakistan." He appealed to the nation to reject the new rulers, and suggested the formation of an independent body for the selection of a chief election commissioner.

The PTI chairman claimed the name of Sikandar Sultan Raja for the slot of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) was given by the establishment after a deadlock emerged. Imran said the CEC appointment should be made through an independent body. He said a reference would be filed against the CEC for not doing delimitation of constituencies on time, resulting in delay in holding elections before time.

He reiterated his stance that the PTI government was removed as part of an "international conspiracy" and urged the nation to not accept this. He noted that the conspiracy against him started in November last while the no-trust motion announcement came in January, adding the US embassy held meetings with PTI’s dissident parliamentarians.

He said that after “the American threat”, his allies also said goodbye to his government. The US, he continued, asked him not to go to Russia while on the other side, its ally India was importing oil from Russia, and ‘we were also asked to vote against Russia in the UNO’.

Referring to a joint statement from US and India, he said no one spoke when they asked Pakistan to "do more". "We hold discussions with Russia on arms, oil, wheat and gas," he said, adding Moscow was ready to give wheat and oil 30% cheaper. "When the country started to prosper economically, this conspiracy was hatched. An independent foreign policy is in the interest of the people," he said.