Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan has said that he has no fight with the “neutrals” and that he does not want to be at loggerheads with the Pakistan Army.
“I am only fighting for a free and fair election,” said the former prime minister while addressing supporters in Khushab on Friday.
Since before his ouster in a vote of no confidence, Imran has been claiming that a foreign-funded conspiracy led to his removal and brought his rivals to power. He has since urged the army, considered by many to be the most powerful player in Pakistan’s political calculus, to take action over this purported ‘regime change’.
Imran’s rivals, currently part of the PM Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government, have consistently claimed that the army was behind Imran’s successful electoral bid in 2018 that brought him to power.
“To weaken the army is to strengthen the enemy,” he said, adding that Pakistan is the only loser in this fight.
“I am ready to talk to any party or the neutrals but I will not back down from call for early elections,” Khan told journalists. Khan had announced a long march to Islamabad for a sit-in until the current government announced a date for early elections. The PTI chief called off the May 27 long march ‘to avoid bloodshed’ while issuing a six-day ultimatum. That has since lapsed with Imran giving new dates for other protests. He is also leading an electoral campaign in Punjab ahead of the by-elections on 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly that fell vacant after the de-notification of PTI’s dissident lawmakers. The PA lawmakers were de-seated after going agaisnt the party head’s wishes in the Punjab chief minister election.
Talking about his stance on early elections, Imran reiterated that he would tell the ’’neutrals“ that there is no other way to move forward.
“If the government wants to arrest me, they can,” he said. Imran’s rivals have claimed that the PTI leader is afraid of arrest and spending time in prison.
Calling his rivals thieves, the PTI chairperson said that he will never join hands with them. “It is better to sit in the opposition rather than form a coalition government with the PPP.”
When asked why he opted for Usman Buzdar as the chief minister, he said it was because PML-Q leader Pervez Elahi was against Aleem Khan becoming Punjab CM.
Buzdar’s tenure as chief minister earned PTI a lot of criticism, with rivals claiming that he was given the position at the behest of Imran’s wife Bushra. It also created rifts within, with former foreign minister and key PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently claiming that people within his party conspired against him to enusre he was defeated in the 2018 election, thus scuttling his bid to become Punjab CM.
“If I made someone else the chief minister, they would just collect properties. At least Buzdar did one good thing: he did not accumulate wealth,” said Imran.