LAHORE: As his party continues backchannel efforts with the government pertaining to snap polls, former prime minister Imran Khan on Monday directed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders to step up political activities in their constituencies as if “the election campaign has begun”.

In a meeting with parliamentarians from the Rawalpindi division, the PTI chairman said protest rallies to win the support of the public should continue to “pressurise” the government into announcing early elections.

During the meeting, the dissolution of the provincial assemblies also came under discussion.

Sources said that party leaders assured their chief that they would “sacrifice” their seats whenever asked to do so.

During the meeting, Mr Khan floated the idea of disbanding the Punjab Assembly in the first phase and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in the second phase.

Sources told Dawn that the legislators in the meeting, however, suggested that the PTI should not go for the dissolution of provincial assemblies in phases. They advised that the decision should be taken in a single attempt to create enabling conditions for snap elections.

However, there was no decision regarding the fate of the Punjab Assembly as Imran Khan asked the parliamentarians to continue holding protest rallies and use them as a part of the election campaign to woo voters, a source in the meeting said.

During the meeting, the PTI chairman also suggested appearing before the National Assembly speaker for the verification of their resignations.

A day earlier, Mr Khan had told media persons that his ally PML-Q leadership was right in saying that the PTI should stick to power in Punjab and KP until it would be assured of getting early elections,” a source in the meeting said.

It may be noted here that Fawad Chaudhry had also tweeted that the PTI would dissolve Punjab and KP assemblies if the PDM government did not present a final plan for general elections by Dec 20.

Economic fragility

The PTI chairman also held a meeting with his economic team at Lahore’s Zaman Park residence to take stock of the economic situation. Following the meeting, he addressed the “nation” and the “powers-that-be” to express his concerns about the deteriorating state of the national economy.

Mr Khan warned that the negative trajectory of the economy would “affect the entire nation as well as the state and security institutions” and urged the Pakistan Army to “seriously think about the prevailing precarious economic situation”.

He proposed that the only way to get out of this economic quagmire was to hold early elections. Asking whether any person can give some other solution to drive the country out of the current economic crisis, he went on to explain that the “country’s economy solely depends on political stability in the country”.

In a reference to the meeting, Mr Khan said the nation as well as the state institutions were “facing the worst-ever economic crisis”.

He urged that everyone, particularly the business community, industrialists, exporters, farmers, and overseas Pakistanis, should raise their voices. Otherwise, they would equally be responsible for the country’s movement towards default, the PTI chairman claimed.

“If I myself see there is no stability in the country for at least three to five years, I will not invest in Pakistan and instead stock up on dollars or buy gold to secure my capital,” the former premier explained.

Similarly, he said, the overseas Pakistanis would start sending their remittances through ‘hundi’ instead of regular banking channels due to disparity in the exchange rate.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2022

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