Launching election campaign, Imran Khan says ready to ‘forgive attackers’

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LAHORE, MAR 4: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said Saturday that he is ready to “forgive” those who had orchestrated an “attack” against him — in November last year — as he launched the election campaign in two provinces — Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

Khan was shot in the legs on November 3 as he waved to crowds from a truck-mounted container while leading a protest march to Islamabad to pressure the government into announcing an early election.

The rally was cut short in Rawalpindi, where Khan announced his plan of dissolving the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies — which materialised last month.

The PTI chief — whose government was overthrown in April last year — had blamed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and a military officer for being involved in the alleged assassination plot.

Ever since his ouster, the PTI chief has kept criticising the military, the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government, and other institutions for being involved in an alleged plot to remove his party from power.

But toning down his rhetoric in a speech to workers via video link, the deposed prime minister — who has called incumbent rulers “dacoits” —said he was ready to “mend fences with everyone”.

Dollar racing to Rs300
Khan went on to claim that the PDM-led government had their Rs11 billion worth of cases dismissed. “In our tenure, [National Accountability Bureau] NAB recovered Rs480 billion. Around Rs11 billion more was to be recovered, but they changed the NAB law,” he said while adding that NAB’s only job now is to take action against the opposition.

Commenting on regime change, Khan said that when his government was being toppled, he made the then-army chief understand that it would “bring instability in the county”.

Firing fresh broadside at the ruling government for ruining the state of the economy in the country, Khan said: “At present, inflation is at its highest in Pakistan’s history. They are now afraid of the election because of what they have done with the country. I’ve known them for the last 30 years, they cannot control the economy.”

The former premier said that there was inflation around the world when his party was in government during COVID-19. He went on to lament the country’s brain drain due to a lack of economic opportunities.

“Around 0.8 million professionals have left the country. Such is the level of despair. On one hand, there is inflation, while unemployment is increasing on the other hand,” Khan said.

The cricketer-turned-politician asserted that there won’t be stability in the country unless a government with a public mandate comes into power.

Sharing fears about the dollar rates increasing, the PTI chairman said: “There was a lot of noise about bringing the dollar below Rs200. It is feared that it will reach Rs300.”

‘Fresh elections are the sole solution’
Speaking to his party workers and the nation, Khan reiterated that fresh elections are the sole solution to the prevailing crisis being faced by the country.

Lauding the Supreme Court, the deposed prime minister said that the apex court took action as the governors and the Election Commission of Pakistan did not announce a date for the general elections in Punjab and KP.

“74 cases have been registered against me so far,” Khan said, adding that the establishment had asked his party workers and leaders to join the PML-N as they had marked a cross on him.

Stressing the need for fresh elections, Khan said that instability would not end until a public-mandated government is elected in the country.

“After the Supreme Court verdict, I was sure that they would conduct general elections. Polls are the first step towards getting out of this quagmire,” he said adding that political stability will come from elections and economic stability will follow.

People’s confidence, Khan said, will increase when a government comes into power with a public mandate.