Proposing the merger of PML-Q with his party, PTI Chairman Imran Khan praised Moonis Elahi and said he stood by the PTI despite pressure from powerful quarters.
Expressing his unwillingness to sit negotiate with the PDM, he said only the military could take the country out of the current quagmire.
“Moonis is a forward-looking young man and he could see the PTI’s political future and was able to convince the older leadership of his party,” he said but added that discussions on the proposed merger of the two allies were yet to take place.
Talking to journalists at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, Imran was also all-praise for Pervaiz Elahi for having withstood threats and other pressure and claimed that even his own members had a lot of offers, especially woman MPAs, but they refused and stood by their party when it came to the vote of confidence. Fighting with the establishment is madness, he remarked.
According to Imran, reconciliation with the army is possible. He is willing to forgive the establishment and move on, whether it is the case of Azam Khan Swati or Shehbaz Gill or other things that took place since the vote of no-confidence against him.
The reason for this, the PTI chairman says, is genuine belief that the military is the most-organised institution and has the resources to stop the smuggling of dollars, help in the crackdown against corruption and other things.
Khan recalled the army’s assistance and work during the Covid pandemic, in polio vaccination campaigns and in controlling locusts.
He said the military establishment only needed directions from leaders. “Their role can be very positive when they move in the right direction.”
When asked the military would get more space to meddle in politics if their role is expanded, he responded that it could not end overnight but leaders had to make sure that a direction was set on how to use the military to establish the rule of law.
Only the military can take the country out of the current quagmire if it works with all political stakeholders, says the former prime minister.
However, Imran said he was not willing to sit with the PDM because “they are looters who want an NRO”, which basically meant they wanted to be above the law.
He said they had no stakes in the country as their assets were stashed abroad, which meant that they could also be pressurised by outside powers.
About Balochistan and the erstwhile FATA, Imran said he believed in political solutions and not military solutions.
When questioned about the crackdown against media during the PTI’s tenure, the PTI chairman claimed that he had nothing to do with it. “I have always taken the legal route when I have had problems with the media. I have a lot of tolerance for media criticism.”
The PTI chairman was very confident that after the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, the PDM would be left with no choice but to go for general elections.
Imran believes that the current establishment will not support the government given the economic crisis. “If this government continues till August, Pakistan will be worse off than even Sri Lanka.” Whatever economic growth was achieved during the PTI tenure had all been undone by the PDM in less than a year, he added.
About Punjab, he said the process for installation of an interim government would begin after the 48 hours the governor had to decide on the dissolution summary lapsed.
The PTI would finalise three names for an interim chief minister and send them to Chief Minister Parvez Elahi for onward consultation with the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly. He hoped an impartial interim chief minister would be appointed to pave the way for free, fair and credible elections.
Answering a question, the PTI chairman said it would be hard for the Pakistan Democratic Movement to extend the tenure of the interim government in Punjab, claiming the new military leadership could not afford this.