Days after a meeting between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ishaq Dar and President Arif Alvi, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan claimed that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government had approached the former ruling party for talks.
The former prime minister made these remarks while speaking about his strategy for the long march and other issues, including the appointment of the new army chief and Pakistan’s economic situation, in an interaction with media at his Zaman Park residence on Sunday.
Mr Khan said the PDM government relayed messages through President Alvi to him and the PTI, but he was not ready to sit with the government till the announcement of fresh elections — a long-held demand of the former premier.
“I would be open to talks on all issues” after the announcement of the date for the general elections, he added. He said the government was afraid to go the polls because it had lost its popularity among the masses. “I will defeat the corrupt rulers’ government with the support of people since they are motivated to get their rights and justice,” he vowed.
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When contacted, PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Azma Bukhari denied the claim made by the PTI chairman regarding the talks offer.
“Imran Khan tries to hold our collar in the day but keeps beseeching for an honourable way out in the dark of the night,” she quipped while reacting to the PTI chief’s remarks.
Another PML-N leader, on the condition of anonymity, said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had called on President Alvi “only to check his reaction on the proposed summary being forwarded for the appointment of the new army chief”.
‘Surprise for all’
Mr Khan, who is recuperating in Lahore after he was injured in a gun attack near Wazirabad earlier this month, said he was all set to give a “surprise to everyone” on November 26 — the day the long marchers will converge on Rawalpindi. The party’s strategy to take the long march to Rawalpindi instead of Islamabad will also be unfolded soon, he added, referring to the ‘surprise’. Mr Khan asserted that he will be present in Pindi (even if not fully recovered) to greet the marchers and explain the next strategy of the march on Islamabad.
The PTI chairman claimed that he knew the planning of the PDM government and he had ‘counter-plans’ to surprise the government and its alleged facilitators. He went on to say that the incumbent government was “trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea”.
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If the government called elections it would face “humiliating defeat” and if it refrained from calling fresh polls then it would push the country towards “bankruptcy”.
He reiterated his stance that early free and fair elections were the only solution to drive the country out of economic and political problems.
Speaking about the next chief of army staff (COAS), the former premier said that the senior-most general should be appointed as the next army chief. The PTI chairman said he did not have a problem with the government choosing to appoint the new COAS.
Imran Khan also talked about the Toshakhana scandal during his conversation. He added the PDM government despite using all the state machinery “could not find anything other than the Toshakhana gift watch. “The gift-watch propaganda will soon be exposed in the court,” he asserted.
The PTI chairman has called a meeting of the party’s central leadership, to be held in a day or two, to finalise preparations for the next phase of the long march. The meeting participants will be briefed by the party’s top leaders about the route and movement of caravans of the long march towards the garrison city.
Threats to Imran
Apprehending that he was facing life threats and can be attacked again, the PTI chief asserted that he would still reach Rawalpindi on Nov 26 and lead the long march to achieve ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ for the people of Pakistan currently pushed into a blind alley.
Since Mr Khan had also told foreign media that he was still facing life threats, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on a private news channel’s talk show stated, “Imran Khan is facing threats to his life from the enemy countries’ agencies”.
The interior minister said the PTI chief, on the other hand, had levelled allegations against the government and security agencies for the assassination attempt on him. “The anti-Pakistan forces can benefit from the current situation,” he added.
Meanwhile, PTI’s coalition partner Chief Minister Parvez Elahi stated that Imran Khan had clarified that the establishment had no role with regard to toppling the government and in the assassination attempt on him.
The Punjab government spokesperson, Musarrat Jamshed Cheema, who was present in Mr Khan’s meeting with media persons, says the PTI would bring a maximum number of party workers to the long march in Rawalpindi. She said the PTI would do everything to get justice in the cases pertaining to the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif and the alleged custodial torture of Senator Azam Swati.