LAHORE: A day after parliament distanced itself from the decision to initiate talks with militants and resettlement plans, former prime minister Imran Khan defended his plan to relocate thousands of fighters from the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the country, following the fall of Kabul in 2021.
In an address on Wednesday, the PTI chairman linked the surge in terror incidents across Pakistan with his removal from power and held the incumbent PDM government responsible for derailing the peace process.
“When the Afghan war ended… some 30,000 to 40,000 Pakistani tribal fighters wanted to come back,” Mr Khan said, adding all stakeholders, including local leaders, had been taken on board regarding their resettlement in the country.
“The PTI government had two options: either kill all of them or reach an agreement with them and allow them to settle in the province. These returning fighters had many issues that needed to be resolved for peace in the province,” he said, adding that the process was ongoing when the “infamous regime change operation removed” him from power.
“They were completely clueless on how to deal with the resettlement issues and left the problem to fester,” he claimed.
Now, the situation has taken a tragic turn as shown by the Peshawar bombing which claimed 101 lives and injured more than 200. But still, a painful tragedy is being used for political purposes, he alleged.
In response to criticism levied against the PTI chief for his government policies from 2018 to 2022, the former premier said, “Ask me questions about the period when I was in power. I cannot be held responsible for things happening when I am out of power.”
“Look at the kind of caretakers imposed. Those who are supposed to be neutral are not only biased against the PTI but they are trying to crush it,” he alleged. The governors have not announced a date for elections which is a violation of the Constitution.
Imran Khan warned of Article 6 (high treason proceedings) in case attempts were made to delay the elections supposed to be held in Punjab and KP within 90 days after the dissolution of the provincial assemblies.
Mr Khan doubled down on his allegations against former president Asif Ali Zardari and said the PPP leader paid “a splinter group of terrorists” to eliminate him. “This is a confirmed report, which I know is true. Such contracts are not written agreements. I was told that attempt on my life would be given colour of religious fanaticism and that is precisely what happened later,” he said, adding that the “next attempt on his life” would be in the guise of terrorism.
Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2023