ISLAMABAD: Interim Prime Minister Imran Khan continued to act as the elected premier of the country and received public calls during a live programme titled Aapka Wazir-i-Azam Aap Kay Saath on Monday.

Interestingly, Mr Khan received a dozen calls during the show and all the callers lauded his government’s performance, praised him for dissolving the government for early polls and none of them asked a critical question.

While answering a query, Mr Khan also asked why the opposition had moved the Supreme Court when he had fulfilled their demand by calling for snap polls.

He claimed that the opposition was afraid of their impending electoral defeat, and that was precisely the reason why they were against conducting the next elections through electronic voting machines and giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis — measures championed by the PTI government.

Interim PM gets ‘favourable’ calls from public during live session; says he would rather lose next elections than rely on ‘turncoats’

“Go to the public and contest the next elections,” he asked the opposition.

Recalling the “achievements” of his three-and-a-half-year government, Mr Khan said the opposition only wanted to get an NRO — a term used to imply exemption from corruption charges, a reference to the National Reconciliation Ordinance.

The opposition leaders were hell-bent on returning to power “so that they can do away with the National Accountability Bureau by securing a second NRO”, he added.

Mr Khan said he had learned a lesson that he would only give party tickets for national and provincial assembly seats to “loyal and patriotic” PTI members and discourage those who did politics for their own interests and money. “It’s better to lose [the elections] than emerge triumphant with such turncoats,” he added.

“I will participate in a peaceful protest procession outside the Red Zone against the opposition for becoming a part of a foreign conspiracy,” he said, adding that a similar protest demonstration would be held in front of a Lahore hotel where votes of PTI lawmakers were being purchased ahead of the election of a new chief minister in Punjab.

He said he had complete confidence in the nation to reject those elements “who have sold out their loyalties for their petty personal interests”.

Mr Khan said National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri had rejected the opposition’s vote of no- confidence on this basis.

Referring to PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif’s “beggars can’t be choosers” remarks, Mr Khan said such leaders had turned the nation into beggars by serving the foreign agenda and securing their personal interests.

Mr Khan reiterated that he had never been against any country, including the United States and India. “I opposed the US-led war in Afghanistan, but I have never been anti-US,” he said. However, “we will not accept policies that go against the interests of the people of Pakistan. Death is better than such slavery.”

He criticised the PPP-led Sindh government for being the “worst” and slammed it for allegedly failing to alleviate poverty and unemployment in the province. He regretted that Karachi had been lagging behind in terms of progress and development.

He proposed a modern local and city government system for megacities so that they could generate their own revenues and overcome their issues.

Mr Khan appreciated the performance of former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar for his “tireless efforts to develop the province”.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2022

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