- Former premier says fresh general elections only option to avoid a political crisis
Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said Monday that he was willing to engage with the current government if it was ready to announce new elections.
In an interview with journalist Kamran Khan on Dunya News, he said: “The country is facing unprecedented circumstances, and fresh general elections is the only option to avoid a political crisis.”
“The country is facing extraordinary circumstances […] in this time we need to think about what decisions to take.”
The former premier reiterated that economic stability in the country won’t arrive before political stability. “Pakistan is going toward a serious default which is why I keep saying that we need fresh elections,” he said.
Imran said that the economic fallout of the floods will come in the coming months. “Tell me […] Do they have a solution? Exports are falling, loans are rising, remittances are falling […] your capacity to give loans is shrinking and at the same time, IMF (International Monetary Fund) is saying power bills will become more expensive.”
Criticising the role of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the current political crisis, Imran said that the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan was his “biggest mistake”.
“They [establishment] became the umpire and presented this option and gave a guarantee he will be the right man,” he recalled. “But the ECP fully tried to make us lose in the [Punjab] by-elections.”
During the interview, he also suggested that the next Army Chief should be appointed after free and fair elections.
Earlier this month, the PTI chairman during a public rally in Faisalabad, alleged that the government was delaying the elections to appoint an army chief of its own when the incumbent retires in November.
The statement, however, did not sit well with the military establishment, which condemned it through a public statement.
“Pakistan Army is aghast at the defamatory and uncalled-for statement about its senior leadership by the former premier,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
The military’s media wing said that regrettably, an attempt was made to discredit and undermine the senior leadership of the army at a time when the institution is laying lives for the security and safety of the people every day.
Following the criticism, Imran clarified that his criticism of the army was "constructive and for its own improvement."
“Those from the PML-N should get this straight that we are the people who would strengthen this country’s institutions,” he said while addressing a large public gathering in Peshawar.
“If we criticise our army, it is for their betterment. What we do is constructive criticism.”
He noted that his comments during the Faisalabad rally were blown out of proportion by the PDM leaders to create misunderstandings between the army and the country’s “largest party”.
“This gang of robbers has realised that they can’t defeat us. The three stooges know that they can’t win by playing the match […] So, now they are trying to disqualify me. They have declared me to be a terrorist in the court.”