Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has said that general elections will not be held at the whim of PTI chief Imran Khan but on schedule in 2023.

Talking to a news channel on Sunday, the minister maintained that Imran’s strategy was all about “destroying the establishment”, adding that since the no-confidence motion to oust him from power has become successful, he “wants the establishment to support him”.

Defence Minister Asif, speaking about the arrest of Imran Khan, said that it was a legal matter, therefore, all cases should be conducted in accordance with the law.

The minister said that today, the entire world, as well as the Pakistani judiciary, is acknowledging that Nawaz Sharif was subjected to “unjust treatment.”

Last Sunday, Imran — while addressing his party’s supporters in Faisalabad — slammed the coalition government for stalling the elections, saying that the delay was being done to “appoint an army chief of their own choice.”

He said that the government had only come to power to “end corruption cases against its members”, adding that only free and fair elections can ensure political stability in Pakistan.

His comment had drawn the ire of the government as well as the military while also receiving criticism from the judiciary. A day after his statement, the Pakistan Army expressed displeasure over his rhetoric against the military.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), in a statement, said that “regrettably, an attempt was made to discredit and undermine the senior leadership of the army at a time when soldiers were laying lives for the “security and safety of the people every day”.

On the other hand, the ruling coalition had castigated the PTI chairman for his remarks at the Faisalabad jalsa.

In a joint statement, the ruling coalition condemned Khan’s public meeting for spreading hatred against the Pakistan Army and its leadership and making “sensitive professional matters” controversial.

The entire nation is battling floods, while the PTI chairman is consumed by a thirst for revenge and his pride, the statement said, noting that despite the cataclysmic floods, Khan is targetting the armed forces.

The ruling partners said that the serious allegations being levelled against the military are for three reasons: to disturb the country’s economy, to move Pakistan’s economy to a path that it becomes like that of Sri Lanka, and foster enmity between the nation and the armed forces.

“With the power of the Constitution and law, we will thwart this nefarious conspiracy and deal with the conspirators in line with the constitution and law,” the statement said.

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