- Conveys through a TV interview an impression that Gen Bajwa may continue as army chief till formation of new govt
- Hints at holding talks with govt
KARACHI: Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Monday while raising a question on the appointment of new army chief by ‘those with just 85 seats’ conveyed a strong impression that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa should be given extension until the new government is elected. According to him, immediate elections are the only way to arrest country’s woeful economic slide.
In an exclusive interview with a private TV channel, the former PM said that his party still has the option of dissolving the assemblies of Punjab and KPK, and they also have a few ideas and will push the federal government staying within the constitution.
He said that on one hand, a message is being conveyed that everyone should work together, while on the other hand, his party is being pushed to the wall. “I can bring the whole nation onto streets,” he said.
Imran Khan said that the country is passing through a difficult phase and he decided to stage a peaceful protest, adding that the elections could be delayed by around two months. He asked: “How can a ‘fugitive’ with just 85 seats appoint a new army chief?” He added that his opponents could appoint a new army chief if they win the election and he would have no problem with the new government’s decision.
The PTI chairman said that floods have wreaked havoc in the country while torrential rains caused flooding from the Koh-e-Suleiman. The accumulated flood water in Sindh has ruined rice crop, which could lead to a food crisis in the near future, and the whole nation will have to help the flood affectees.
Imran Khan went on to say that Pakistan needs internal and external aid at this juncture as not a single dam has been constructed in the past 50 years. He further said the construction work on 10 dams was started during his government.
He said, “Climate change is causing destruction all over the world, that is why the PTI government started the Billion Tree Tsunami,” adding that the old forests in the country were destroyed and 10 billion trees are very necessary.
Khan claimed that a conspiracy was hatched to topple his government when the country was progressing with a 6 percent economic growth, adding that he had warned those ‘who had the power’. “We said that no one would be able to manage the economy in case of instability at that time,” he said and added that they (the incumbent government) had no plan to manage the economy, these people just wanted to get rid of corruption cases against them.
He said that he could not imagine that Allah would give him such a popularity. “We are benefiting from every step or move of the government. Even in the Musharraf’s era, I did not see such cruelty, fascism, people are being intimidated, people are getting calls from anonymous numbers, cable operators are threatened in the course of a telethon,” he added. “My popularity is increasing, but I am deeply concerned about country’s economic conditions,” Imran said.
While reiterating his call for early elections, the PTI supremo said that the best option is to hold elections in the country to bring political stability, adding that “we have the option to resign from all our governments.”
Imran Khan stated that accepting the name of the Chief Election Commissioner was his big mistake, adding that the establishment had given a guarantee, but the Chief Election Commissioner misses no opportunity to act against us. “The CEC openly opposed and sabotaged the EVM plan, and if a transparent election is to be held in the country, voting must be done through EVM,” he added.
Lashing out at PM Shehbaz Sharif, Imran went on to dub him (Shehbaz) as a “fugitive”, questioning how the person with 85 seats can have the power to select a COAS.
“I am ready to talk with everyone, but first we will talk about the general elections. But they (coalition government) get really jittery when they hear the word elections, so how could I talk to them,” said the former premier.
He also warned that the country will continue to face the worst situation if this government continues to rule. Imran claimed that there was no possibility of political stability in the country under the rule of the coalition government. Talking about Sindh by-elections, Imran went on to say that the province has been witnessing floods due to which by-elections could be delayed for two months. Sharing his thoughts about the western world, the former premier claimed that no one but him better knew the “psyche” of the western world.
While stating that he had quite a “great” relationship with the then US president Donald Trump and the then UK prime minister Boris Johnson, Imran further said he had no issue with the US, but the country had to pay the price of taking part in an American war. Imran stressed that he wants a relationship with the US that is based on “mutual respect” as there should be a good relationship with Washington but only Pakistan should not be used in any foreign country’s war.
He said that during his visit to the US as premier, Trump gave him a lot of respect. However, if somebody has money abroad, Americans would not respect that person, the former premier added.
The PTI Chairman said that he was a little “upset” with the US, but it doesn’t mean that he is anti-American.
“I am getting the edge from the current situation in the country,” the PTI Chairman added. When it comes to the general election, he is not in a rush, Imran added. Reiterating the significance of elections, the PTI Chairman said that elections are the only solution to the problems due to which the country would witness political stability.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022