Imran urges government to hold talks over snap polls or else we’ll dissolve Punjab and KP assemblies - GulfToday

Imran urges government to hold talks over snap polls 'or else we’ll dissolve Punjab and KP assemblies'


Imran Khan addresses the Punjab Parliamentary Party members in Lahore on Friday.

Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan on Friday urged the government to hold talks to decide a date for an early election to end an impasse that has stoked political instability since his ousting in April.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician has been leading a countrywide agitation, demanding an early election following his removal in a parliamentary vote led by his united opposition.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who replaced Imran Khan, has rejected the demand for the snap polls, saying that the election will be held as scheduled later next year.

Citing the devastating economic situation as the reason behind the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s (PTI) constant demand for fresh elections, Imran, in his address to the parliamentary party from his Lahore residence in Zaman Park, warned that the country is fast moving toward default.

"If we do not head towards elections there won't be stability in the country," he warned, adding that the coalition government is not ready to talk about snap polls because they are scared of the results.

Imran has lately threatened to dissolve parliaments in two provinces, which are ruled by his party and coalition partners.

"Either sit with us and talk as to when the next elections should be held, or else we will dissolve the provincial assemblies," Imran said in an address to his party members telecast live.

The former prime minister said that amid the ongoing political situation the PTI wasn't bearing any losses, it was the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government who was being accused of all the devastations.

Citing the credit default risk — which now stands at 100 per cent and was around 5 per cent during PTI's tenure — Imran highlighted that investors and businessmen have lost faith in the coalition government as they have failed to present an economic road ma.

He lamented that overseas Pakistanis are reluctant to invest in Pakistan meanwhile the banks are refraining from giving loans to the local business community.

The talks offer is a step back by Imran Khan, who has previously been refusing to sit and negotiate anything with the coalition government, which contains former opposition parties he has said comprise a corrupt political elite. The parties reject that allegation.

Imran rode to power after winning a general election in 2018, which his opponents say he secured through a rigged ballot engineered by the country's powerful military, a charge both Khan and the military deny.

The dissolution of the two provincial parliaments could trigger a constitutional crisis in the South Asian nation, which is already facing political and economic instability.

The government has said it will hold elections in the two provinces if Imran decided to dissolve them.

In response to Imran's statement, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the government could hold the talks sought by Imran Khan, adding it was also ready to hold elections in the provinces in case the parliaments were dissolved.

Imran last week called off over a month-long protest march in his first public appearance since he was shot at and wounded in a gun-attack last month in November.

Imran, who called off his long march to Islamabad last week had announced quitting assemblies across the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

The party's leadership, according to PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry, has approved the dissolution of assemblies in both provinces, but the final decision will be made after further consultations.

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