LAHORE: In a rather uncharacteristic move, PTI chief Imran Khan on Friday appeared to seek an opportunity to sit down with the ruling PDM coalition and the establishment to hammer out a consensus on the upcoming polls.

At the tail end of a nearly 17-minute speech — broadcast on social media platforms — the former PM seemed to be calling for all parties, including his own, to sit down and talk about the country’s future, i.e. the upcoming general elections.

In his speech, Mr Khan first predicted that his party would sweep the elections as the actions being taken against him and his supporters were only “increasing our vote bank”.

“May 9 was an excuse, there was already a plan to crush [my] party. But how will you crush the party when its vote bank is increasing? [Our] people are being subjugated but the [party’s popularity] is increasing. So will elections never be held?”

“This is why, even today, I would like to say to those who are in power, I mean the PDM and the establishment… the time has come to think of the country,” he said.

“Whenever you remove your ego from the equation and think of the country, we would all sit and make the same decision, the one that is in the interest of Pakistan, and that is holding free and fair elections,” he said at the conclusion of his speech.

This was an unusual statement from Mr Khan, who is the self-professed arch-rival of the incumbent PDM regime and has, in the past, baulked at the suggestion of sitting down for talks with the “thieves and looters” currently in government.

In the past, whenever the party has been offered a chance to sit down with political forces, Mr Khan had always opposed it, saying he would only talk to the establishment as they were the ones who held real power.

Published in Dawn, Aug 5th, 2023

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