Imran ‘ready to forgive all for sake of country’ as he launches PTI’s election campaign

Published March 4, 2023
PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks in a video address on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks in a video address on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday said that he was ready to “forgive everyone” — including those he accuses of masterminding an assassination attempt on his life — for the country’s sake — as he formally launched his party’s campaign for the upcoming elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Last year in Nov, a PTI worker died and 14 others, including the former prime minister and PTI leaders, were injured in the attack at Wazirabad’s Allah­wala Chowk, where the party’s “Haqeeqi Azadi” march against the federal government had stopped on its way to Islamabad.

The PTI chairman had accused Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Inter Services Intelligence Director General-C Maj Gen Faisal Naseer of planning the attack on him. He had also demanded that the three resign to ensure a fair and transparent probe into the incident.

Separately, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab — both of which have been under caretaker governments since the provincial assemblies were dissolved in January — should be held within 90 days.

In a video address today to kick off the PTI’s election campaign, Imran said: “I am ready to talk with everyone and compromise because considering Pakistan’s upcoming condition, I again say that the whole nation will have to confront [the crisis] together.

“There was an attempt to assassinate me, and I know who attacked me [but] I am ready to forgive for the country’s sake.”

Imran cited the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela as the reason for his offer to forgive.

“The country needs to unite considering the point where it is standing … this is not a matter of my ego but the country,” he said.

Imran said all institutions, including the judiciary, needed to come together and agree on reforms.

He said no government could think of going alone and tackling the country’s issues on its own. “The nation will have to stand together, the institutions will have to as well, and everyone will have to tackle it together,” the PTI chief added.

Imran further said that “nothing is impossible” when a nation is united and decides to stand on its own.

However, at the same time, the PTI chief said that he would not talk to or compromise with “those who steal the country’s wealth”.

Referring to the political parties in the incumbent government, he alleged that he was asked to give them a deal similar to the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance during the PTI government — something he said he could not agree on.

Election campaign

Regarding the PTI’s election campaign, Imran said he would hold his first rally next Saturday.

He called on the PTI workers in Punjab and KP to get ready, adding that he would allot tickets to contestants in a week or two.

“I am allotting the tickets myself this time because I got to know that they were sold last time and wrong candidates were made [our ticketholders] so I’m not leaving it to anyone and am investigating and interviewing people myself.”

Imran said those denied PTI tickets would be accommodated in the Punjab local government polls, adding that they would be held soon after the provincial elections.

Regarding party discipline, he said any PTI member who contests polls independently after not being awarded a party ticket would be “immediately expelled” since “this is the most important election in Pakistan’s history.”

Imran alleged that there was yet another assassination conspiracy being planned against him, adding that he knew who was behind it. “But I am happy that in the past 11 months, I’ve seen my party change. Now I know that even if something happens to Imran Khan, the PTI has become the kind of party … that no one can stop this country [from moving] towards real freedom.”

‘Revolutionary measures needed to solve dollar crisis’

Addressing the current precarious economic situation of the country, Imran said it would remain stuck in a “quagmire” until there were new elections.

Assailing the government for its economic performance, Imran said: “Even an enemy won’t do what all these parties did together [with the country],” pointing out soaring inflation in particular.

Imran added that another round of inflation was imminent due to the rupee’s recent depreciation against the dollar.

“The way the situation seems today, the dollar will reach Rs300,” he said, adding that fuel and electricity would become costlier as a result.

The former prime minister said the country needed to take hitherto untaken “revolutionary measures” to increase income and exports while cutting down on expenses, redundant institutions and public corporations.

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