‘Minus-one’ approach to knock me out of the game won’t work: Imran

Published September 24, 2022
<p>PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks in an interview on Saturday. — Aaj News screengrab</p>

PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks in an interview on Saturday. — Aaj News screengrab

PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday said that no matter how much his opponents tried, a “minus-one” formula to knock him out of the political contest would not work.

Speaking in an interview on Aaj News show “Aaj Rana Mubashir Ke Saath”, Imran said his opponents were looking for a “technical knockout” to somehow sideline him from the political process since “they know they can’t face me in a match.”

Imran once again alleged that Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja was part of this plan and was conducting every PTI-related case, such as the Toshakhana and foreign funding references, in a biased manner.

The PTI chief said that the PPP and the PML-N, and their leaders, should also be investigated under the two references.

“I think this minus-one [approach], no matter how much they try can never be successful. Because all of their efforts, they have looked at everything, and if after 3.5 years they only found the Toshakhana [reference] then it means they actually haven’t found anything.”

He also issued a challenge for any single illegality to be shown in the Toshakhana reference.

Relations with the establishment

The former prime minister was also asked about the PTI government’s relations with the establishment and reports of the latter stepping back in its support during the former’s last year to which he said he had the “best relations”. “It was because of that equilibrium that the country got out of its problems,” he added, further saying that there were no problems.

“[However], if the establishment thinks [that] in this current system of ours that has formed, if it can withdraw support and say: ‘we are neutral’ and any government can continue then no one should have this misconception.”

Imran said that such a moment would arrive but for a coalition government in the country where the establishment was so powerful, “the day the establishment signals that it is stepping back from a government then it can’t continue.”

The PTI chief claimed that he had always informed the establishment about this. “I said the day you decide this [to withdraw support], the government will fall,” he added.

Turning his aim to his political opposition, he alleged it was not a difficult task for it to offer bribes and sway PTI members into switching loyalties.

“We had no breaking point [in our relations with the establishment]. Whatever the reasons, though I have an idea what they were, the real thing is what happened to the country,” Imran said, questioning what had happened to the country as a result of the vote of no-confidence.

“Who is responsible for what is happening with Pakistanis today? Everyone who could’ve stopped this [toppling of the PTI government] is responsible.”

Imran said that at the point where the country currently was now, all of its stakeholders needed to sit together and decide to “completely change the system”, including governance, bureaucracy and many other aspects.

Matter of the army chief’s appointment or extension

The PTI chairman was also asked about his thoughts on the army chief’s appointment or extension to which he said that the “first priority” should be new elections.

Imran said that the matter of the new army chief’s appointment — which is due in November — should be tabled for later when a government arrives with a fresh public mandate.

Pressed further on his thoughts and that such an option would mean the extension of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s term as the army chief, Imran reiterated that the elections were the first priority no matter “what it takes”.

“If we are having elections then in that … if we can extend [the army chief’s term] until elections take place — it is possible and maybe there’s a provision. I’m not a lawyer but there must be some provision for this,” he said.

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