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'Decide whether we are imported govt or establishment made a mistake,' Asif tells Imran

Khawaja Asif slams PTI for demanding fresh polls; confirms Nawaz Sharif's return

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Ex-foreign minister Khawaja Asif speaks during a joint news conference after the 1st China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers Dialogue in Beijing, China, on December 26, 2017. — Reuters
Ex-foreign minister Khawaja Asif speaks during a joint news conference after the 1st China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue in Beijing, China, on December 26, 2017. — Reuters

  • Asif slams PTI for demanding fresh polls.
  • Defence minister confirms Nawaz's return.
  • He berates Khan for defending Farah Gogi.

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif Monday asked the ousted prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan to decide whether the incumbent government was "imported" or had the establishment "made a mistake".

Former information and law minister Fawad Chaudhry had said last month that their government was ousted as its ties with the establishment were "strained", but the PTI subsequently has also claimed that the US was behind ousting their regime.

In a tweet today, the ex-prime minister had openly called out the Biden administration for its involvement in a "regime change conspiracy" in Pakistan.

"My question for the Biden Administration: By indulging in a regime change conspiracy to remove a democratically elected PM of a country of over 220 mn people to bring in a puppet PM, do you think you have lessened or increased anti-American sentiment in Pakistan?" the PTI chairman said.

The incumbent government officials have repeatedly said that Khan is blaming America for his ouster as he had failed to deliver during his tenure, but the PTI chairman remains adamant that the US, in collaboration with the then-Opposition, was behind his ouster.

In response to PTI's statements — of strained ties with the establishment and US-backed conspiracy — Khawaja Asif, during an interview with a private television, said Khan repeatedly says the coalition government was backed by the United States.

"Imran Khan calls us an imported government who is backed by the US. But he should decide at once whether we are imported or had the establishment made a mistake," Asif stressed.

'Why should we hold fresh elections?'

Moving on, Asif said after PTI's ouster, the party was demanding new elections, but before its fall, they claimed that their government would complete its tenure and also come into power for a second consecutive term.

"Why should we hold fresh elections? We removed Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion — a democratic move," the defence minister said.

The defence minister said the no-confidence move to remove Khan partially helped the coalition government right the "wrong" of the 2018 general election.

Asif asked all the political parties and the institutions — judiciary, establishment, and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) — to help hold the next polls transparently.

Incident at Masjid-e-Nabawi

On the incident that occurred in Masjid-e-Nabawi, Asif said Khan's aides, Sahibzada Jahangir, Aneel Mussarat, and others, had flown from London to Saudi Arabia and were present there.

Asif said the Saudi authorities had taken notice of the incident and had launched a probe into it.

Alleged PTI supporters had hurled abuses and also launched a physical attack on the delegation of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif while they were at the Masjid-e-Nabawi. The authorities had arrested as many as five people suspected involved.

The defence minister also clarified that Nawaz's son, Hussain Nawaz, was not present in any official meetings while the government delegation was in KSA.

'Is he Farah Gogi's advisor?'

Asif, taking a jibe at the ousted prime minister, said he was now defending his wife Bushra Bibi's close aide Farhat Shehzadi aka Farah Khan.

"Is he Farah Gogi's advisor that he is defending her?" the minister questioned, noting that recently ex-information minister Fawad Chaudhry had claimed that Farah had no links to the PTI.

Khan, finally breaking his silence over the corruption allegations against Farah in a press conference yesterday, had claimed that the cases against his wife's aide were "totally wrong."

Nawaz's return; using Article 6 against Khan

Speaking about other matters, Asif said PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would "most definitely" return to Pakistan, but he was unaware of the details of the plan.

"I am not aware that the punishments handed down to Nawaz will be forgiven. Although, appeals have already been filed against his convictions," Asif noted.

He also said that he does not believe in retaliatory actions and was not in the favour of using Article 6 — which deals with constitutional violations — against the PTI chairman.