Imran breaks away from establishment

PTI chief accuses govt of trying to delay elections

Imran Adnan March 09, 2023
Photo: BBC News Urdu


Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday said he did not need the establishment, stressing that he only wanted fresh elections in the country.

In an interview with BBC Urdu, and addressing a news conference via a video link, the former prime minister urged the Supreme Court to stand with the Constitution as the current rulers were trying to delay the polls and derail democracy.

“Those who had people’s support don’t need crutches,” Imran said in the interview. “I only want elections in the country and for that I am ready to talk to anyone, but I don’t need crutches.”

The PTI chairman said he was asked if the establishment wanted the talk, would he talk to them. “I said that I am a politician, I will talk to everyone, except thieves.” He added that he never invited either the army chief or Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for talks.

He said that it was being stated that he wanted talks with the army chief, but “I don’t need the establishment”. He added: “The party which has the support of the people does not need crutches.”

When asked if the change in military leadership made any difference in the attitude of the establishment, he said, “It didn’t make any difference to us. Cases were made against us during the tenure of Gen [retd Qamar Javed] Bajwa.”

The PTI chief said that the Supreme Court ordered election in 90 days, while the president also announced the date but the current rulers wanted to avoid elections on the pretext of chaos.

“When we hold an election rally, the police came. Vehicles were vandalised, water cannon was used and people were arrested. “The job of the caretaker government is to conduct elections but how elections could happen without election campaign and rallies?”

He recalled that the PTI had won 37 by-elections in the last few months. Therefore, he said, the government parties were afraid and wanted that the elections did not take place. “They wanted chaos [to avoid the elections],” he added.

“They are giving all kinds of excuses as to why the election should not be held. They are trying to somehow get out of the elections. I am afraid that they would kill a big personality, like Benazir Bhutto,” the PTI chief charged.

“The nation has turned against the government parties, that’s why I won the 2018 election. Now that the inflation has happened and these parties have been buried, they want that I’m either disqualified or go to jail so that they could win this election.”

At the press conference, Imran urged the Supreme Court to uphold the law, as the rulers were attempting to delay the elections because they know that the people’s sentiments had turned against them.

“They might assassinate a notable personality or create a law and order situation through terrorism so that they could create grounds to delay the elections,” he said, adding the government might give excuses such as financial constraint or census issue.

Terming the ruling coalition a “mafia”, the PTI chief warned that they would try to create a division within the judiciary. However, he stressed that the entire nation stood by the judiciary and pinned their hopes on them for justice.

Imran alleged that the rulers were using all available tactics to put him behind bars so that he could not run an effective election campaign. He said that Wednesday’s violence in Lahore was also a conspiracy to prevent the PTI from carrying out the election campaign.

He slammed the rulers for the police crackdown on the PTI in Lahore, saying that their illegal actions hurt democracy. He alleged that the same officers were involved in the crackdown, who were behind the May 25, 2022 atrocity in Islamabad.

Hence, he questioned the neutrality of the caretaker governments of the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The Punjab government, he added, was bent on crushing the PTI “for which it had been selected”.

He was of the view that this would dent the image of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which appointed “an anti-PTI” interim setup. He urged the ECP to take election officials from the judiciary.

“The current critical situation of the country demands that the ECP hold free and fair elections if we want to steer the country out of the prevailing crisis. If we fail to do our job, anarchy would spread in the country,” he warned.

“Thus, do not allow the discredited caretaker setups to appoint the ROs [from bureaucracy], whose sole aim is to rig the elections; ask the judiciary to depute their officials as ROs [returning officers],” he added.

Meanwhile, while talking to a select group of journalists, the PTI chief termed Wednesday’s violence a sequel to May 25, 2022, adding that the government wanted elections after getting him arrested or debarred from politics.

Castigating his political opponents, he claimed that after dividing the judiciary, the rulers were planning to launch a campaign against the chief justice. “We would not let this plan to succeed,” he added.

He also castigated Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, saying they were brought up with ill-gotten money.


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