ISLAMABAD: In a departure from his traditional stance that he would never negotiate with the ‘crooks and looters’ currently in power, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said on Friday the doors of negotiations were always open, even with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
“We are ready to talk to PDM on everything after they announce the date for the fresh elections,” he said, claiming that the PDM leadership was “confused” as due to their falling popularity they didn’t want snap polls.
Amid speculations that he may be disqualified for life under Article 62 (1)(f) in light of the Toshakhana and prohibited funding cases against him, ostensibly to pave the way for the return of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif to national politics, the former prime minister said he would not cut any deals to this effect.
He made these remarks on Friday during the ‘Independence Diamond Jubilee Special’ session on Zoom, which was attended by journalists and celebrities among others.
PTI chief admits Gill made ‘objectionable’ statement, deplores ban on news channel
In response to a question, Mr Khan said efforts were underway for a “technical knockout” and added that references in the Toshakhana case and prohibited funding case were part of a ‘Plan C’ to remove him from the political scene.
According to Mr Khan, these cases will be dismissed in courts as they contained “nothing substantial”.
“However, the Sword of Damocles is hanging over my head,” he added.
“They are trying that after the propaganda which may result in a ban [on Imran from politics] they will offer a deal that if the ban on Imran Khan is to be removed, then similar treatment should be extended to Nawaz Sharif as well. It is a bargain like that,” Mr Khan told the participants of the Zoom session.
He said that his cases and Nawaz’s cases were not similar, but a deal was still being sought. “I have not made a deal, nor will I cut one,” the PTI chief said, terming the rumoured deal an ‘NRO-2’ for Mr Sharif. He added that the “conspiracy” to sideline him will eventually harm the country.
In response to a question regarding another extension to the chief of army staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Imran Khan said that appointments in the military, including that of the military chief, should be made on merit. “We should strive for merit in the army so that best officers could rise through the ranks,” he added.
The PTI chief, while talking about a ban on ARY News, said the tv channel was banned not because of the comments made by his chief of staff Shahbaz Gill, but because it was an attempt to stifle the voices supporting him. He admitted that a sentence uttered by Mr Gill during the TV show was “absolutely objectionable” but banning the news outlet over the PTI leader’s remarks still did not make sense.
About the resurgence of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, Mr Khan feared it looked like a plan to “destabilise” his party’s government in the province. He, however, warned about the fallout of the move.
Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2022