Imran gives govt few more days to announce polls

PTI chief admits polls cannot take place until Nawaz says so


Rizwan Shehzad   October 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD:

Former premier and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Monday admitted that the next general elections were linked with ex-premier Nawaz Sharif’s consent, saying elections won’t take place until the PML-N supremo took a decision.

The PTI’s deposed premier – while further admitting that the back-channel negotiations were somewhat ongoing with the powerful stakeholders – said that there wasn’t much clarity in talks till now.

The PTI chief along with party leaders was addressing media persons in Islamabad a day after winning six out of eight National Assembly seats in the by-polls.

To a question about back-channel negotiations with the powerful stakeholders, the PTI chairman said: “What should I say; negotiations are ongoing as well as not ongoing, meaning whatever back-channel negotiations that took place, there is not much clarity in such talks till now.”

“I know why there isn’t clarity,” Imran said. “Because Nawaz Sharif is afraid of elections; elections won’t take place until he [Nawaz] takes a decision.”

He said that Nawaz was afraid of losing elections as the ruling coalition parties couldn’t defeat the PTI in the by-polls, adding that Nawaz wanted to delay the elections hoping that the PTI’s popularity wave might come down.

For the last six months, ex-PM Imran quipped that he had been hearing different guesses that the PTI’s popularity wave would go down for one reason or the other that hasn’t happened, saying that the opponents’ defeat was imminent whatever tactics they resorted to.

Read Imran makes history in Oct 16 by-polls

“He [Nawaz] is afraid and wants to delay polls for 10 months or a year, hoping that the PTI’s [popularity] wave may diminish before the elections could be held.”

Till then, Imran said, Nawaz was least concerned about the loss that the delay was causing to the country because he was sitting abroad. He, however, threw down the gauntlet to Nawaz once he returned to the country and took part in the elections.

Among other things, Imran stressed that the army chief should not be appointment by “criminals like Nawaz or Zardari”, saying: “The army chief should be appointed on merit.”

During the news conference, Imran without naming any person said: “A man posted in Islamabad is behind the action being taken against his party’s leaders and causing rifts and hatred.”

He demanded immediate action against the person concerned.

Meanwhile, Imran said the nation has rejected the “imported government”, reiterating his call for early elections saying the government was being given “some more time” before he gave the final date for the PTI’s long march.

"I am giving them (the government) some more time for the sake of the country and I repeat that they still have time to announce elections,” he said. “If they do not,” Imran said, “I will begin my march as the preparations are almost complete.”

Imran claimed that the top leadership of the ruling coalition had allegedly been looting the country for the last 30 years, saying their interests were not in Pakistan and they went abroad at every given opportunity and returned after getting an NRO.

The nation rejected them and it repeatedly emerged, he said, questioning “aren’t the powerful stakeholders watching what is happening in Pakistan”. He reminded the stakeholders that their stakes were in Pakistan but not of the incumbent rulers.

Imran recalled that all his opponents ever wanted from him was an NRO – a deal wiping their slates clean – throughout his tenure.

“General (retd) Musharraf caused great harm to the country by giving them NRO,” Imran said, adding that the country’s debt increased manifold during the 10 years after the NRO was given to the PML-N and the PPP leadership.

Imran said the incumbent rulers were imposed on the country after being given an NRO again when the country was rising. Emphasising that the nation had rejected the ruling coalition, Imran while addressing all the powerful institutions in the country said that the more the incumbent government would continue its rule, the more the country would go down.

Once again, the PTI chief claimed that the recent audio leaks proved that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was in cahoots with the PML-N to plan these elections, saying the audio leaks had also proven that the chief election commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja was a key player of the PML-N.

“The ECP and the PML-N had planned to schedule the by-polls in constituencies where they thought their combined vote bank was double the size of the PTI’s,” he said. Despite the hurdles that were created by rescheduling the elections, he said, the PTI was able to defeat the joint candidates of ruling parties.

Touching upon the National Assembly seat the party lost in Karachi’s Malir district, Imran accused the PPP of rigging the by-elections. “I have complete evidence of the PPP rigging the elections like they always do in Sindh,” he said. He claimed that the election commissioner was on the payroll of the Sindh government, an issue for which they had already approached the Supreme Judicial Council, but the “case was not being heard”.

The PTI chairman also vowed to raise the issue of violence being inflicted upon PTI Senator Azam Swati by filing a petition in the Supreme Court. He added that special sessions would also be called in the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies to highlight the issue while the party would also take the matter to international organisations, including the United Nations and the European Union.

On talks with major ruling parties, Imran once again ruled out the possibility of dialogue with the government, saying: “This is very hard to do as you can talk to Baloch and Sindhi nationalists, but not with criminals.”

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