KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Thursday characterised the harassment allegations levelled by former PTI member Ayesha Gulalai as part of a “coordinated effort by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and a media group” to malign him.
In an interview to a private news channel, Mr Khan claimed he was taken by surprise by the MNA’s allegations, especially because he had met her only 24 hours before her explosive press conference on Tuesday. “She was there with the NA-1 delegation; we discussed the seat as she wanted a ticket and asked me to let her campaign there... [and] give a speech,” he said.
“I told her that her performance in the assembly was not good and we had given her a reserved seat. I thought she had a lot of potential...; she performed very well in the beginning.... I don’t know what happened to her,” the PTI chief said.
He suspected the PML-N had used Ms Gulalai and their “old smear tactics” to achieve their own ends.
Earlier, the PTI chairman took to the social media and asked his party colleagues to refrain from attacking Ms Gulalai’s sister, Maria Toorpakai, who is an international squash player.
Commenting directly for the first time since the allegations were made, he tweeted using his official account (@ImranKhanPTI): “My request to all PTI supporters is to immediately refrain from targeting Ayesha Gulalai’s sister.”
After Ms Gulalai’s press conference, PTI’s Alia Hamza had brought up the sportswoman in her remarks against the MNA.
“Gulalai claims that Imran Khan wants to bring western culture; she should first look at her own home,” she said. Some PTI supporters also criticised the squash player’s dresses.
Immediately after his first tweet, PTI chief tweeted: “After seeing their efforts to get me disqualified & their smear campaigns ag me all fail, PML-N is moving to do what it does best.” He followed this up with: “Try & purchase its way into toppling the legitimate KP govt. Rest assured there will be no counter offers/Changa Mangas”.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2017