Saturday, March 25, 2023
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan has said that whether he is in jail or not, his party will "sweep" the elections.
Speaking during a conversation with American media group National Public Radio (NPR), the former prime minister said he does not know if he will end up getting disqualified or not, but that it also "doesn't matter" because he believes his party has a popularity wave "unprecedented" in Pakistan's history.
Khan, a former cricket star, was prime minister from 2018 until 2022 when he was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote. Since then he has been demanding a snap election and holding protest rallies across the country to press his case.
His successor as prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, has rejected his demand and said an election would be held as scheduled later this year.
"What is happening is that the government is petrified of elections. They're scared that we're going to win the elections. Therefore, they are trying everything to get me out of the way, including assassination, because I survived an assassination attempt - [and am] very lucky to be alive," said Khan — who survived an assassination attempt during a long march last year.
Commenting on whether he is confident that there will be an election at the appointed time, Khan said that's what his worry was as constitutionally when the country dissolved its two provincial governments, the elections had to be held within 90 days.
When asked what would happen if his party — the PTI — returned to power, making a reference to the Opposition's claims that Khan cracked down on the media and other critics when he was in power last time.
"Steve, my 3 and a half years were the most liberal 3 and a half years in our history. I mean, the - we never interfered with the judiciary, which was always the case in the past. We never interfered with the media. The only time there were problems with the media was not because of us, because of the army, because of the army establishment," Khan responded.
He went on to say that currently, within five months, not just him but also all his senior leadership have cases against them. "They're running from one court to the other," he said.
The interviewer pressed the former premier to share what his "attitude" would be toward the people he accuses of persecuting him now if he returns to power.
At this, Khan said his "firm belief" because he's been all over the world as a professional international sportsman on the difference between rich countries and poor countries is not lack of resources, but rule of law.
"Countries that have rule of law prosper, countries that don't have rule of law become banana republics. So our fight in Pakistan is to bring the powerful elite under the law," he said.
The rule of law means anyone who breaks the law, you actually - they are held accountable, Khan said.