ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan on Monday ruled out talks with the government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif calling it an exercise in futility, but appeared to be keen on initiating a dialogue with the military establishment — the ‘real decision makers’.

Talking to the media during his appearance at the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in connection with multiple cases, the PTI chairman said that he did not believe in “vengeance and will strive for the rule of law” if he came to power again.

In response to a question whether he was ready to hold talks with politicians on the charter of economy, Mr Khan replied that politicians, including the incumbent rulers, were “powerless and they have no authority to conclude the dialogues”. The establishment is the “real decision maker and power is concentrated” within the military, he claimed.

Mr Khan accused former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa of “backstabbing” and said that he could have sacked Mr Bajwa on at least three different occasions, but he exercised restraint. The PTI chief dispelled the impression of being under pressure and said that he was more concerned for the economy.

He said that the debt servicing exceeded the federal budget, the economy was on the verge of default, and industry had almost collapsed and added that all the economic indicators declined in just one year.

He said that the incumbent government was responsible for the poor economy and the only solution for this problem was to explore venues of income generation, mega reforms, and taking drastic measures.

He further said that his government was buying Russian oil at 40 per cent less price. “Is this a solution, is this a reason for toppling my regime?” he questioned. It may be noted that the first shipment of Russian fuel reached Pakistan on Sunday.

In a comment on the statement of the opposition leader in the National Assembly about a delay in general elections, Mr Khan said that the ruling coalition was reluctant to hold elections even in October fearing defeat. He said that they thought PTI would be crushed but they could only dream for this. He termed the departure of heavyweights from his party ‘as a blessing in disguise’, saying that “he got rid of the electables and that those who had parted ways with him and formed a new party are the ultimate losers”. He was optimistic about winning the next general elections even if he would be jailed.

Mr Khan also distanced himself from the drugs case registered against Rana Sanaullah during his tenure and blamed it on the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) headed by a serving major general who had briefed the federal cabinet on the arrest of Mr Sanaullah.

He expressed apprehensions about his military trial in connection with the May 9 violence and said that the authorities were turning “approvers to charge him” under the Army Act. He termed trials of civilians in military courts as the end of democracy and justice.

Bail in graft case

Earlier, Mr Khan appeared before the IHC to pursue his petition seeking direction for the chief commissioner to shift at least four courts from Sector F-8 Markaz to the comparatively secure Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) in Sector G-11.

His lawyer stated that due to the fragile law and order situation in Sector F-8 Markaz, it was not convenient for Mr Khan to appear in the relevant judicial magistrates/trial courts.

These cases were based on the FIRs registered at four police stations in Islamabad.

Also on Monday, the PTI chairman filed two separate petitions, one of which pertained to a corruption case registered in Dera Ghazi Khan.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq granted Mr Khan protective bail in the corruption case and directed him to approach the chief commissioner for shifting of courts from F-8 to the judicial complex in G-11.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2023

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