Imran says he’s ‘ready to talk’

Imran Khan

Says his biggest mistake was to accept a weak government

Court Reporter

RAWALPINDI: After being behind bars for months, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan said Friday that he is a politician, who is “open for dialogue” and is “ready to talk”.

“For the last 19 months I’ve been saying that I’m ready to talk […] I’m a politician,” Khan told journalists in Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail, where he’s incarcerated in numerous cases.

The PTI chief, who was ousted in a no-confidence move in April of 2022, has been facing consecutive setbacks in the lead up to the general elections.

First Khan was jailed in May last year, then the PTI was hit with an exodus of leaders and cases being lodged against its remaining workers. Later, the party’s electoral symbol — a major voter driving force was taken away this month, and the party — PTI-Nazriati — with which it sought an alliance also backtracked from its commitment.

But as the embattled PTI faces uphill tasks, its major rivals — the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — have already commenced nationwide campaigns and distributed tickets for national and provincial constituencies.

The PPP and the PML-N are eyeing to form governments in the centre, with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari confidently saying that the elections are now just between two parties as the PTI is out of the electoral race — since its candidates will be running independently.

While referring to the prevailing political landscape in the country, Khan said that steps were being taken to form a “controlled parliament”.

“My biggest mistake was to accept a weak government. Instead of a weak government, I should have held elections again. It would be better to sit in the opposition rather than a weak coalition government.”

Responding to a question, the PTI founder said that a hung parliament or feeble government could not address the economic problems being faced by the country.

“Reforms and improvement can only be done by a strong government,” he added.

With general elections set to take place on February 8, Khan hopes were shattered to contest as the Lahore High Court (LHC) earlier this week turned down his appeal against the rejection of nomination papers.

The high court upheld the decisions of the returning officer (RO) and appellate tribunal given against acceptance of the disqualified former premier’s nomination papers from NA-122 and NA-89 constituencies.