Former prime minister Imran Khan on Monday termed the PTI government's decision to file a reference against Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa a "mistake", saying it "should not have unnecessarily confronted the judiciary".
He made the remarks in an informal meeting with journalists, including ARY News' Abdul Qadir, Dunya News' Umar Jutt and Samaa TV's Abbas Shabbir, at his Bani Gala residence.
According to the journalists, the former prime minister talked about a number of topics in the 1.5-hour-long conversation, including allegations of selling Toshakhana gifts, the appointment of the chief election commissioner and his trip to Russia.
The reference against Justice Isa was sent by the law ministry, according to Khan, who said he did not have "personal enmity" with anyone in the judiciary, Express News journalist Rizwan Ahmed Ghilzai tweeted.
According to a report by ARY News, Khan said that the record of whatever gifts he had bought from Toshakhana was available and if anyone had evidence that he had committed corruption, they should bring it forward.
He shared that a foreign president had sent a gift to his Bani Gala residence that he had then deposited in Toshakhana — a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division that stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other governments, states and foreign dignitaries as a goodwill gesture.
He had bought back the gift at 50 per cent of its price, he added. "My gift, my choice. If I wanted to make money, I would have made millions by declaring my house as a camp office but I did not do that," Khan was quoted as saying by the ARY News journalist.
Editorial: Toshakhana saga
"I thank God, that in three years (of rule), all they have got against me is this Toshakhana gift scandal, which is already on record," he was quoted as saying in the ARY News report.
Last week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had claimed that his predecessor sold expensive gifts received from foreign states, including a wristwatch by Saudi Arabia, in Dubai.
The prime minister's claim was endorsed by former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, who said in a statement that "selling one's own assets (after purchasing them from Toshakhana) is not a crime."
'Establishment gave 3 options'
According to a report by Samaa TV, the former prime minister shared that the establishment had given him three options, of which he had chosen early elections. Earlier this month, he had identified resignation and facing the no-confidence motion as the other two options.
Journalist Abdul Qadir tweeted that Khan had denied he requested anyone to end the political deadlock as the no-confidence vote loomed against him.
"Establishment talked about three options after meeting our senior leadership," he was quoted as saying.
Khan's assertion that the options were given by the establishment came days after Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Babar Iftikhar claimed that it was Khan who had approached the military leadership and that "no option from the establishment was given."
Meanwhile, according to Ghilzai, Khan said that he was staying quiet "because Pakistan needs a strong and united army", adding that a strong army was the guarantor of Pakistan's security.
The former prime minister also said that he would not say anything that could hurt the country.
Khan also shared that he had called Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa prior to his two-day trip to Russia in February during which the army chief said he should go ahead with the visit, according to the Samaa TV report.
The former prime minister also reportedly clarified that he had not met anyone besides anchorpersons and party members on his last night in office, thus, putting to rest reports of a meeting with the army leadership the night he was ousted from the top office.
His comments come days after the BBC published a story supposedly recounting the events leading up to the ouster of Imran Khan as prime minister.
The story alleged that "two uninvited guests" reached PM House, with an extraordinary security detail, via helicopter and held a 45-minute private meeting with Khan.
The biggest claim in the story — made by quoting government sources — said that the meeting was less than pleasant. "Just an hour ago, former prime minister Imran Khan had given orders to remove one of the senior officials present for the meeting," the story alleged, without taking any names.
The story was later rejected by the military's media affairs wing which termed it to be "totally baseless and a pack of lies".
Khan revealed that the incumbent Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja's name was "proposed by the establishment" after a deadlock between the then government and the opposition, according to Jutt.
In a separate tweet, the journalist said Khan shared that the PTI would file a reference against the CEC, adding that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had shown "incompetency" by not completing delimitation of constituencies in time because of which early elections were delayed.