LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan castigated the coalition government for blaming his party for rising terrorism incidents in the country and adopting ‘friendly policy’ towards the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP).
In his ‘address to the nation’ through a video link here on Wednesday, the former Prime Minister rebuffed the coalition government’s claim that the PTI government’s policy of negotiating with the TTP strengthened the outlawed group in the country. “I am not in power anymore; had I been in the government then I would have been answerable.
Terrorism was under control during my tenure; I challenge my political opponents to pinpoint an instance of terrorism that took place during my time of my government,” he added.
While talking about the terrorist attack in Peshawar and expressing anguish over the incident, the PTI chief said that he was not responsible for terrorism and rising inflation in the country. “Those in power, and who ruled for 30 years, were responsible for the ongoing crisis,” he added.
He further said that everybody knew the reaction would come after the Afghan jihad. “The drone attacks were started in the tribal areas in 2004. I was the only one to raise my voice against the drone attacks,” he added.
“I feared instability in Afghanistan (after the American’s withdrawal); there were 30,000-40,000 fighters in Afghanistan. Then, a decision was taken by the parliament members and the armed forces that these fighters would be settled in Pakistan,” he said, adding that he feared instability and hence his government tried to negotiate with the group to ensure that Afghanistan’s fallout does not affect Pakistan.
He maintained that had the coalition parties not removed his party from power then the situation would have been completely different. “Why did they remove my government when they could not run the country,” he questioned, adding that the incumbent rulers’ only reason for coming into power was to close their corruption cases worth Rs 1,100 billion.
Khan also criticised the political opponents for using the Peshawar tragedy for political gain, alleging that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif wanted to use the tragedy as an excuse to delay the elections in KP. He said that there was no provision in the Constitution for delaying elections, which clearly states that elections must be held in 90 days. “I am sure the government was planning to delay the elections for a year. Despite a war on terror and terror attacks at their peak, the general elections were not postponed in 2008 or 2013,” he added.
He regretted that KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali wrote a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to postpone the elections in KP when the nation was in grief over the deadly suicide attack on Police Lines. He claimed that the caretaker governments in KP and Punjab were not behaving as neutral; “they had been brought to prosecute my party”.
Talking about the ‘regime change’, he reiterated that his relationship with former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa (retd) was smooth and they were on the same page for some time. “However, after the former army chief was granted an extension in his tenure in 2019, he wanted the PTI government to forgive the cases against then-opposition leaders, but I was not willing to give NRO (amnesty),” he added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023