Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Tuesday, said that the government will proceed with by-elections on the vacant seats if the opposition resigns from parliament.

Addressing a group of senior journalists and columnists at the Prime Minister’s House, he spoke about his willingness to engage with the opposition on every issue except for giving them an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance).

He said that the opposition is not achieving anything through its rallies apart from creating chaos and attempting to destabilise the government.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement, the 11-party opposition alliance that demands the prime minster’s resignation, met the same day in Islamabad to discuss their upcoming rally in Lahore and subsequent march to the capital. It also solidified its plans to resign from the parliament if the conditions of the opposition are not met.

Prime Minister Imran Khan dismissed these threats and announced the plan to proceed with by-elections to fill any vacant seats. Speaking to media, he said that the opposition can only use constitutional means to remove him, and pressure tactics cannot move him.

He said that now is a defining moment in Pakistani because it is a struggle for the rule of law. By the end of his five-year term, the difference between Imran Khan’s and previous governments will be clear to all citizens, he claimed.

Imran Khan said that Muslim countries throughout the world have been made weak and there was a plan behind this. He presented the examples of Iraq, Iran and Syria as countries who have been weakened through political unrest, and said that the opposition wants Pakistan to be weakened in the similar manner.

He emphasised that under his premiership, civil-military relations in Pakistan were very good because the military did not become an obstacle to any of the policies that had been defined in the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) manifesto. Instead, he said, the military facilitated the ruling party in implementing its policies, and did not resist the government in any manner. Here, he mentioned Afghanistan as an example of a country where Pakistan had not left any institutional memory prior to Imran Khan’s government.

He further said that the government was ready for local body polls, which would likely be conducted in April 2021 following the Senate elections.

The prime minister also acknowledges lapses in this government, admitting that his government should have approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) immediately after assuming power instead of wasting 10 months. It would have been better if he had prioritised reform of state-owned enterprises like Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills in the initial days of government, he said.

Imran Khan also admitted that most people in his team had no prior experience of governance, and had to learn through trial and error. When he took office, he was too taken aback by the scale of the problems, the prime minster said. It is a different scenario when you view the government from the inside, he added.

Additionally, the prime minister expressed concern about the second wave of Covid-19 and the fact that citizens were not following standard operating procedures (SOPs).

When US President Donald Trump did not take the pandemic seriously, even after recovering from it, his supporters also took it lightly, which is why the United States is averaging nearly 3,000 deaths daily, Imran Khan said.

He also said that people must follow SOPs to control the spread of the virus. He said that madrassahs are also included in the policy of closure of school.

Pakistan can not afford a lockdown, the prime minister maintained.


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