LAHORE: Making a last-ditch effort to seek fresh elections, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chair­man Imran Khan on Friday invited the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government to give a date for next general elections or else he will use the option of dissolving Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, taking nearly two thirds of the nation to vote.

“We are giving you (PDM government) a chance to sit with us and discuss a date for general elections, otherwise the Punjab and KP assemblies will be dissolved,” Mr Khan conveyed this message while speaking at a scheduled meeting with Punjab Assembly legislators via video link from his Zaman Park residence on Friday.

Mr Khan said he had unwavered backing from the PML-Q as Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi visited him and assured that the assembly would be dissolved on his beck and call. “We have a full option to dissolve assemblies that will lead 66 per cent Pakistanis to elections besides compelling PDM’s 11 parties to join elections — practically freezing the federal government,” he warned.

The PTI chief has been demanding fresh elections since his government was toppled through what he called a “regime change conspiracy” in April, but the PDM government paid no heed to the demand. He eventually announced “Haqeeqi Azadi” march from Lahore that concluded in Rawalpindi after over a month, with the ‘surprise’ announcement by Mr Khan that the PTI would quit from all provincial assemblies and request the National Assembly speaker to accept the resignations submitted by his party lawmakers earlier this year.

Invites PDM to sit with him to discuss election date; claims PTI popularity won’t be dented by delaying polls

At the meeting, he told party parliamentarians that PDM member parties were afraid of going to polls, knowing that the country was facing worst-ever economic crisis and the masses would not vote for them.

Mr Khan said the coalition government’s roadmap had been reduced to registering cases against PTI leaders, get him disqualified and incarcerate him as already indicated by PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, harass PTI workers, and get their own corruption cases closed.

The former premier said the country needed urgent elections so that political stability be ensured and the businesses, investors as well as outer world could regain trust to work with Pakistan and boom its economy. Otherwise, he said, the PDM government had increased country’s debt manifold from Rs6 trillion to Rs30 trillion, while the PTI government tried to revive economy, investments, remittances and record tax collection to re-pay taxes. Now yet again, he said, the country was heading towards default and the whole world was acknowledging it.

He said the federal government did not pay some Rs176bn due for Punjab, Rs120bn for Sindh as well as to Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and even Balochistan leaving development projects to come at a grinding halt.

“The PTI will not be affected by the delay in general elections but the incumbent PDM government will continue facing people’s wrath now and in the next polls”. He regretted that finance minister Ishaq Dar had also fallen silent as he could neither bring down the dollar rate nor able to tackle the IMF and Moody’s. “Exports and remittances have gone down, growth rate has fallen flat, tax collection sliding and default risks have grown from five per cent to over cent per cent, he regretted.

PTI’s senior leader Fawad Chaudhry told the media that the party leadership had approved the dissolution of assemblies in both provinces, but the “final decision” would be made after further consultations.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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