ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan once against insisted it was the military leadership that came up with three options to address the deadlock between him and the joint opposition after the no-confidence motion was filed, and went a step ahead by saying that even Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja’s name for the office was suggested by the establishment.
Mr Khan’s comments come a few days after Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar had claimed that the three options were, in fact, presented to the army chief by the PM’s Office to break the political deadlock. The options were Mr Khan’s resignation, him facing the no-trust vote or the opposition withdrawing the no-trust resolution and holding fresh elections thereafter.
However, the very next day PTI leader and former human rights minister Shireen Mazari had rejected Gen Iftikhar’s claim and said it was the military that had given the options.
“Incorrect. Army ldrship contacted Khattak for mtg with then PM IK and they took the 3 proposals two of which were absurd given IK’s repeatedly stated public position. I know u have ur own viewpoint but as someone on the inside at the time u r factually wrong,” she tweeted while replying to a tweet of journalist Hamid Mir, who had also claimed that former defence minister Pervaiz Khattak had contacted the military leadership on March 30 and conveyed the three options to them to discuss with the then opposition.
Ex-PM reiterates claim army presented him with three options in wake of no-trust deadlock
While speaking to journalists about a range of issues at an informal meeting at his Banigala residence on Monday, the former premier claimed the name of CEC Raja was also proposed by the establishment after a deadlock between the then government and the opposition, suggesting the chief election commissioner should be appointed through an independent body.
Mr Khan reportedly also said the PTI would file a reference against the CEC, as the Election Commission of Pakistan had displayed “incompetence” by not completing the delimitation of constituencies on time, which delayed early elections.
He further said he would not say anything that would create problems for the country, as the nation needed a strong and united army, adding a strong army was the guarantor of Pakistan’s security.
Deploring one of his decisions and clarifying his position, Mr Khan confessed he should not have filed the reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
“It was the Ministry of Law that referred the reference to me. I have no personal vendetta against anyone in the judiciary,” he claimed.
He also alleged that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was transferring officers of the Federal Investigation Agency who were investigating cases of money laundering of Rs24 billion against the party leadership.
While replying to questions about his party’s alliances when it was in power, Mr Khan said he had learnt a lesson by giving tickets to allies, that there should be no allies.
“Last time I could not pay attention to the distribution of tickets for elections, but next time I will issue the tickets after looking into all aspects. A conspiracy was hatched against me while things were getting better for the country. I was fighting against the mafia that was responsible for the price hike,” he said.
Replying to a question regarding his wife’s friend Farah Khan, he said she (Farah) had no political position so it was not possible for her to take bribes for making any alleged postings.
“Whatever I have bought from the Toshakhana is on record and if anyone has evidence of corruption, they should bring it forward. The president of a country visited me at my house and gave me a gift, which I deposited in the Toshakhana,” he maintained, adding he had bought back the gift at 50 per cent of its price. “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.”
About the public demonstrations taking place in various parts of the country in his support, he said an unprecedented number of people came out of their houses to protest against the present government.
“They (PML-N) play with the connivance of umpires. I appeal to the nation not to accept this government as Shehbaz Sharif has been carrying out engineering and wants to fix the match by appointing officers of his choice. Now they are trying to shut cases against Nawaz Sharif. There are also cases against Asif Ali Zardari and his companions, but they are all on bail,” he said.
Mr Khan also claimed that he saved Rs1.08 billion of the Prime Minister House’s expenses.
Meeting with JI chief
Meanwhile, the PTI chairman also had a telephonic conversation with Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Emir Sirajul Haq during which they discussed issues of mutual interest. Mr Khan said his government had been toppled through a conspiracy, and suggested all patriotic forces stand together to defeat the plan.
Mr Haq agreed to continue contacts between the two parties regarding which it was decided that senior PTI leaders Pervaiz Khattak and Asad Qaiser will keep in touch with the JI.
In a separate development, PTI leader and former minister Hammad Azhar stated that Imran Khan will again become prime minister after elections. On Thursday, the entire Lahore city will reach Minar-i- Pakistan to record its protest and express resentment against the conspiracy to topple the PTI government, he claimed.
Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2022