• Warns PML-N won’t consider democratic norms if cornered again
• Blames PTI chief for anarchy-like situation
• Marriyum chides 10-point agenda of ex-PM

LAHORE: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan has said that former premier Imran Khan has steered his political rivalry to a point of enmity where “either we will maintain our existence or he”, fearing that the PTI chairman could lead the nation and the country towards some tragedy if people didn’t oust him from the politics through their power of vote.

In an interview with a private TV channel, the minister who is a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz termed the ex-PM ‘incorrigible’ and ‘incurable’ and said peace could not be guaranteed until Mr Khan was there in the political arena.

He also made it clear that if they (his party) found that they were being eliminated (from the politics), they would go to any extent to save themselves, without thinking about the merits and demerits of their steps, whether these were democratic or undemocratic, principled or unprincipled.

“Now either he will be eliminated from the political arena or us. Only Imran is to be blamed for bringing us to this stage,” the interior minister said, adding that Mr Khan was responsible for the anarchy-like situation in the country. He told the interviewer they had been considering him (Imran) a political rival, but the PTI chairman took them as arch-enemy.

Mr Khan “even blamed me, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and an army officer for plotting to kill him,” Mr Sanaullah said, apprehending that the PTI chief’s narrative was creating bad blood among followers of both parties and either he or they could be killed (by followers of each other’s party).

Responding to a query, the minister said when Mr Khan was in power he planned to recruit through president’s powers such retired judges of the subordinate judiciary as presiding officers of special courts such as anti-narcotics courts who would hand down “capital punishment or life term to political rivals”.

Also, the differences between Mr Khan and former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had developed on the issue of “eliminating the then opposition” by hook or crook, the PML-N leader recalled.

Answering a question, he said Mr Khan had been trying for the past 11 months to “set fire to the country” but the coalition government always exercised restraint to save the situation from getting worse.

Meanwhile, firebrand PML-N leader and information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb addressing a presser called out Mr Khan for announcing a 10-point agenda that according to her only indicated his party’s failure during its 10-year rule in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and four-year rule in both Punjab and centre.

Referring to his changing narratives and conspiracy theories behind his ouster from power corridors, the PML-N leader said Mr Khan would fabricate a new story only to divert attention of the people from the falsehood of his previous tale, adding that his only problem was ‘psychological’.

In the name of elections, she said, the PTI chief wanted to get ‘selected’ again to save his skin in the cases of prohibited funding to his party, Toshakhana gifts and Tyrian Khan.

Had he been serious in the democratic process, he would have neither forced the National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker to violate the constitution while facing no-confidence motion nor dissolved the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Chiding his 10-point roadmap, she said: “Imran Khan should be slapped 10 times for giving a 10-point plan, not a single of point of which he could implement during his (party’s) 10-year rule in KP and four-year rule both in Islamabad and in Punjab.”

She quipped if Mr Khan had planned to improve the national economy in the same manner as he had improved the financial status of his spouse and her friend Farhat Shehzadi.

Referring to the point of housing, the minister remarked the PTI chief had fulfilled his pledge to the nation by building ‘five million houses for his spouse’, who accepted Rs5 billion ‘bribe’ in the name of Al-Qadir Trust.

Regarding money laundering, she alleged the former premier used private jets to move the plundered money out of the country. If the prohibited funding case decision was implemented, the menace of money laundering could have been dealt with, she remarked.

About Mr Khan’s much-trumpeted promise of 10m jobs, she said the ex-premier rendered over 10 million Pakistanis jobless.

In response to a query about the leaked audio recording of former chief justice Saqib Nisar, Ms Aurangzeb said the language he had purportedly used in the audio against PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz Sharif reflected his upbringing.

About the massive inflation, the minister said the country’s economy was not a machine that could be switched on rather it would take time to rebuild the national economy devastated by the PTI government.

She said Mr Khan had attempted to hide behind excuses of his fractured leg, old age, and threats to his life for not appearing before courts in cases against him though no such excuse barred him from attending the public meeting at Minar-i-Pakistan.

She said the PTI chief exhausted all other tricks and the only option left with him was to raise the issue of so-called threat to his life for not appearing before courts in cases against him.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2023

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