Islamabad: Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan on Friday said that he was “open for dialogue” and “ready to talk,” indicating his willingness to mend ties with the powerful establishment ahead of next month’s general elections.
The 71-year-old founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party has been incarcerated at a high-security jail facing multiple cases for more than six months.
Pakistan’s election commission has cancelled the iconic symbol of his party, the cricket ‘bat’. Nomination papers for Khan and a number of his party leaders have also been rejected by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Various courts have been turning down his and his party’s pleas against these decisions.
Khan has already been convicted in the Toshakhana corruption case and is under trial for multiple other cases, including under the Official Secrets Act and May 9 violence.
“For the last 19 months, I’ve been saying that I’m ready to talk ... I’m a politician,” Geo News quoted Khan as saying to the journalists at the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi.
The PTI leader was ousted in a no-confidence move in April 2022 and since then has been facing consecutive setbacks in the lead-up to the general elections.
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, Geo News added.
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,” he was quoted as saying.
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.” Khan has maintained that his party was being targeted over May 9 violence and that the violent protests targeting the Corps Commander House and the GHQ of the Pakistan Army were a part of the ‘London agreement,’ in which, he alleges, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif is being favoured by the powerful Pakistan Army.