PTI chief and former prime minister Imran Khan on Monday said that he was willing to hold a dialogue with the incumbent government if it was ready to hold fresh elections.
He made these remarks in an interview with journalist Kamran Khan on Dunya News.
Responding to a question regarding holding talks with the government, Imran said: "The country is facing extraordinary circumstances [...] in this time we need to think about what decisions to take."
He said that his life and death were in Pakistan, hence, his interest was in the country's improvement. "I'm always ready to talk if they want to talk about free and fair elections."
Talking about the army chief's appointment, the PTI chief stressed that it should be done on merit, highlighting that meritocracy was important for any successful institution or nation.
"The army chief is a very important position and should be chosen on merit [...] But Zardari and Nawaz are not qualified for merit.
"Their priority isn't merit, but saving their money," he claimed.
At one point during the interview, when journalist Kamran repeatedly asked Imran if he would accept the extension of the incumbent army chief, the PTI chief said: "Hold fresh elections. If they [the coalition government] wins, they can choose their own army chief."
Imran also said that he would have apologised to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) if he was allowed to speak.
"I got to know they wanted me to go ahead with, I could have said what they wanted if they had allowed me to speak."
Last week, IHC decided to indict the ex-premier in a contempt case against him for passing controversial remarks against Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry, calling his response “unsatisfactory”.
The IHC had initiated contempt proceedings against Imran over his diatribe against the female judge, who had approved PTI leader Shahbaz Gill’s physical remand in a sedition case, at a public rally in Islamabad’s F-9 Park on Aug 20.
On September 7, Imran had submitted a second reply to the court after the first was termed “unsatisfactory”.
Relationship of integrity with the US
In response to a question regarding his relationship with the United States, Imran said that he wanted a bond of "integrity" with every country, not one of enmity.
He said that he was in contact with US think tanks and had a meeting with Robin Raphel — former United States ambassador to Tunisia — because "I knew her from before".
The PTI chief said that Pakistan should have "right relations" with the US." I just say we shouldn't be used, we don't want enmity, but a dignified relationship.
"We have to decide if we want to lead a dignified life or lay down in front of them like beggars," he added.
Imran said that he had warned the "powers that be" of an economic "tailspin" in the aftermath of political instability following his ouster as he expressed fears of Pakistan approaching a "default-like situation".
Answering a question regarding the precarious economic conditions in the country, the PTI chief said that economic stability in the country won't arrive before political stability.
The only way out of this situation was fresh elections, he pointed out, recalling that before the no-confidence move he and former finance minister Shaukat Tarin had warned the establishment that the "fragile economic recovery would go into a tailspin" which could not be handled by the incumbent government came to power.
And, he said, the government failed to stabilise the economy because of which the markets panicked.
"Pakistan is going toward a serious default which is why I keep saying that we need fresh elections," Imran reiterated.
He said that the economic fallout of the floods will come in winter. "Tell me [...] Do they have a solution? Exports are falling, loans are rising, remittances are falling [...] your capacity to give loans is shrinking and at the same time, IMF (International Monetary Fund) is saying power bills will become more expensive."
The PTI chief then went on to ask: "Those who brought these people after removing our government, I want to ask [...] were they thinking of Pakistan? Everyone knows the history of these two families."
And such a situation calls for all the Pakistanis to be troubled, he said, cautioning that the situation was "getting out of hand".