PDM using negotiations to delay elections, has not formally approached PTI yet: Imran

Published April 23, 2023
The photo shows PTI Chairman Imran Khan in an interview with ARY News on Sunday. — screengrab
The photo shows PTI Chairman Imran Khan in an interview with ARY News on Sunday. — screengrab

Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan claimed on Sunday that the federal coalition was using negotiations with the opposition to delay elections, revealing that the government had not yet formally reached out to his party for a dialogue.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court (SC) — while hearing a case pertaining to holding elections across the country on the same day — had given all the major political parties a week to develop a consensus on the date for polls to the provincial and national assemblies.

However, the ruling parties had rejected the apex court order, saying that talks with the PTI could not be held under the court’s watch. PPP Chair­man Bilawal Bhutto-Zar­dari and JUI-F chief Maulana Faz­lur Rehman — who also heads the Pakistan Democratic Movement — had termed dialogue between political forces as mandated by the court “talks at gunpoint”.

The PTI and ruling parties have been in an impasse regarding polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab — where assemblies were dissolved earlier this year. The PTI is determined to hold polls to the provincial legislatures but the government maintains its stance on simultaneous elections across the country.

In an interview with anchorperson Maria Memon on ARY News today, Imran said that he had given the mandate for talks with the government to PTI Central Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

“No one from the PDM has formally approached us yet,” the PTI chief said. “I fear they are using these negotiations to delay elections. They are just buying time so that elections can be delayed beyond October.”

He asserted that the PTI was adamant about holding elections in Punjab referring to the SC’s April 4 order in which the apex court had directed the government to hold polls in the province on May 14.

“Talks can be held if they have a proposal on joint elections,” Imran told Memon. “If they give an SC-endorsed proposal on joint and immediate polls — by dissolving their governments in May — only then we can talk.

“But if they are leaving it open-ended, then it is nothing but a trap,” he said.

Talking about conditions put forward by the PTI, Imran said that the biggest condition he had was for the current caretaker setups to be removed. “These setups have become unconstitutional now and we want genuine caretaker governments to be brought.”

Bemoaning the “atrocities” faced by PTI supporters, the former premier lashed out at the caretaker Punjab government as he recalled the police operation at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore. He also claimed that the setup was fully aiding PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz.

He further said that if his party came to power again, he would primarily focus on establishing the rule of law and rebuilding Pakistan but at the same time contended that the PDM’s fascist actions on PTI supporters, such as the death of Zille Shah, were unforgivable.

‘Bajwa wanted good relations with India’

Recalling the events of his ouster, Imran claimed that former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was a liar, lacked any ideology, and had been planning PTI’s ouster for a year.

“He had begun lobbying with the US long ago and wanted the Americans to endorse his extension,” he claimed. “For this purpose, Bajwa also wanted good relations with India and didn’t care about Kashmiris.”

“So, my reading is that Bajwa had no ideology,” Imran stated, adding that he was given briefings and presentations on the corruption of the Sharif family by the previous intelligence heads.

“They had even more information than that available to the public … but he was ready to give these people NRO. The thing is how can you give NRO to these thieves when you have a sense of morality or ideology?

“Shehbaz Sharif was to be convicted, but they saved him and brought him to the top. If you don’t have the sense that you’re giving NRO to big thieves and selling Kashmiris … then this means you have no ideology,” Imran added.

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