Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday said he would thank the coalition government if they add his name to the exit control list (ECL) as Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had earlier said that the cabinet will take some important decisions regarding him tomorrow.

Imran, in an interview with a private news channel, said the PTI will approach the Supreme Judicial Commission against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

Following the warning of the interior minister regarding the restriction to enter the Red Zone, he added that the PTI leaders, workers, and supporters will stage a peaceful protest outside the ECP and will not enter the Red Zone.

Terming the report released by the ECP “absurd”, he said: “The ECP prepared two reports — one of these, which stated that the PTI is foreign-funded, was included on someone’s special request.”

Imran said that no law prohibits political parties to collect money from overseas Pakistanis. “PTI collected money from companies in 2017 and the law prohibiting this action was formed in 2017; therefore, no law has been violated,” he said, adding that this is not foreign funding.

Regarding the second allegation levelled against him for signing the account, he clarified that one thing is to take an oath and the other is to certify party accounts.

He explained: “I am the chairman of the Shaukat Khanum Hospital, which has a budget of Rs18 billion, however, I don’t see the budget as I am not an accountant.

“The accountants and auditors of the hospital present the accounts and I sign the documents.”

The PTI chairman added that the court has also asked the election commission to review details of accounts of all political parties together.

“In such a case, we will also share where the party secures funding from while other parties will also share details of their sources,” he said, adding that PTI collects money in a similar manner that is followed in England and America.

“We follow the international practice while other political parties have seths along with these parties make money,” Khan reiterated.

He added that during elections, these political parties take funds from these seths (tycoons) as people don’t give them money; “however, despite all this, the election commission is shying away from highlighting the details of their accounts and it will not do so till next elections.”

Once again, stressing his demand for fresh elections, the former prime minister said that the coalition parties fear that they will lose the elections, therefore, they decided to head towards snap polls; however, they are unable to manage the government.

Imran added that Pakistan’s national security is under threat because of this Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government.

“The election commission is involved in a conspiracy with the government,” he claimed, adding that the only solution to pull the country out of the crisis is immediate elections.

Regarding CEC Raja, he said that “neutrals” approached the PTI [when it was in power] as there was a deadlock on the selection of candidates.

“The neutrals said that they would suggest a name for the position of the CEC on which nobody would have objections,” he said, adding that the name of the election commissioner was given by “neutrals” as he did not even know who was Sikandar.

“I told them [neutrals] that if you are suggesting a name then it is fine,” he said, adding that when the name was announced people raised their voices that “this person is a confidant of the PML-N”.

Imran said that he told the “neutral” about the concerns raised by the people; however, “they [neutrals] said that they will take guarantee that this person will remain neutral while the CEC from the first day took decisions which were against PTI.

He said that the election commissioner gave eight verdicts against PTI which were overruled by the court. 

DISSOLUTION OF ASSEMBLIES: Imran added that he is ready to hold dialogue with the coalition parties if they announce a date for snap polls and dissolve assemblies.

He said that the PTI members will not go to the assembly in any case as this will signify that “we also support the conspiracy.”

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif went abroad as PM Shehbaz signed the affidavit; “now should Shehbaz be held accountable for submitting a false affidavit,” he questioned.

ARMY CHIEF: Imran asked if the country could be held back for the appointment of the army chief, suggesting that instead of thinking about what will happen in November, the focus should be on bringing stability back to Pakistan.

The PTI chief said that while the army played an important part in the country’s national security, economic stability was equally important.

“We have to choose […] do we want stability or a new army chief?” he said in response to a question.

He gave the example of the Soviet Union, that according to him, broke apart due to economic instability.

“Right now, the more important issue than the army chief’s appointment is stability and only one thing can bring that — elections,” Imran said, highlighting that the aim should be to prevent Pakistan from falling into a place where “things go out of hand”.

He highlighted that the markets were tumbling, industries were closing down and the economy was in a freefall. “Now is the time to decide. But this fear in Zardari and Shehbaz [of losing the elections] is sabotaging the entire country,” the PTI chairman went on to say.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who was given an extension by the previous PTI government in 2019, will leave his position on November 29 when his second three-year tenure comes to an end.

The next army chief’s appointment is at times mentioned as one of the major subplots in the ongoing political crisis engulfing the country.

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