Imran responsible for current mess: Khawaja Asif

News Desk
Saturday, Mar 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister and PMLN senior leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif Friday said PTI Chairman Imran Khan was fairly and squarely responsible for the current political and economic situation in the country and nobody could guarantee how things would pan out in October. He said this while talking to the foreign media here along with Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb.

Asif said the general elections would be held on time in October, as the security situation had deteriorated in the last couple of months and terror incidents had escalated.

“The Ministry of Finance says they are facing a tough time so we will not be able to provide funds for the elections [...] and it takes about a month for the deployment of forces.”

Asif said Imran blamed the US for hatching a conspiracy against his government but now he was seeking its help to get into power, reports Geo News. He said Imran Khan’s political journey started with a cipher.

“And today Shireen Mazari has written a letter to the US for help [...] the country which was being accused of hatching a conspiracy against Pakistan or conspiracy against Imran Khan’s government, the same people are now asking for help and rescue from the perpetrators of a foreign conspiracy,” he said.

Responding to a question, the PMLN leader said the government tried to develop a consensus on the economic policies last year but that offer was rejected by the then prime minister. “He [Imran Khan] has offered to talk to the establishment but not the political leadership. Despite the fact that the present government is willing to talk on so many occasions, Imran kept on insisting and went to the extent of trying to approach the present leadership of Pakistan Army,” he added.

Before that, Khan approached former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa through the president, tried negotiating with him and offered him an extension for life. “He has not offered the present government dialogue or negotiations. However, we are ready to talk for the sake of peace in our country to have a consensus on some major issues,” he added.

“We’re not in favour of a transitional dialogue but a comprehensive one that covers everything,” he highlighted.

Speaking about the recent clashes between the PTI supporters and the police, Asif said there was a possibility they might escalate and an ugly situation could develop.

“Imran Khan is a desperate man; he has demonstrated violence in the last few weeks and this has never happened in Pakistan,” he said, reiterating that the political governments had never resorted to ‘organised’ violence. The minister said the government still had the ability to control violence triggered by Imran Khan and his supporters.

Talking about the former premier’s appearances before the court, Asif said nowhere in the world had ever an accused refused to appear in court.

“His appearance in the court is accepted while sitting in the car and he actually attacks the courts or the courts are mobbed by his supporters. Whenever he appears, the courts are intimidated. They come under pressure, face threats. And when the police are sent to his home to arrest him, they are attacked with Molotov cocktails and firing,” he continued.

“This has never happened in Pakistan before. Even during Imran’s tenure and in the past too, the opposition leaders were arrested and they surrendered in a dignified manner,” he said, adding that they never physically contested their arrest and never abused or maligned the courts. Recalling the time when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) leaders were arrested, Asif said there was never this kind of resistance when they were detained.

“I was picked up from the Embassy Road and remained in jail for almost six months. It has been almost three years but my wife and son still appear in court. The victimisation of the opposition [during Imran’s government] was unprecedented.”

However, he said the coalition government never resorted to political victimisation during its tenure. He further said that the incumbent government was governing the country in circumstances which were difficult administratively, financially and politically.

Asif said they had the option to dissolve the assembly after the vote of no-confidence and call for new elections but the country was in the middle of negotiating with the IMF.

“An interim government perhaps could not do that as effectively as an empowered and elected government could,” he said, adding that the government was handling the crises precipitated by Imran.

Speaking about the allegations levelled by Khan against the IGP Punjab and the chief minister for conspiring to murder him, Asif said the whole thing was scandalous and he was trying to create an atmosphere where his followers were ready to believe anything he said and it’s like a cult.

“Earlier, he accused the US of conspiring against him and now he is again flirting with the American government through lobbyists and approaching them for some sort of intervention, aid or help.” He said the PTI had lobbied in the US and asked people to speak in their support, which was not “very respectable” for a political worker to seek help from abroad.