Monday, March 27, 2023

Imran Khan was offered elections 'on a plate': Irfan Siddiqui

PML-N senator reveals PM Shehbaz was to resign by May 25 and elections were to be held by Sept 2022

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Irfan Siddiqui. — APP/File
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Irfan Siddiqui. — APP/File  

  • Irfan Siddiqui says elections would have been held by Sept 2022. 
  • Reveals it was decided that PM Shehbaz would resign by May 25. 
  • Says Nawaz Sharif was not in favour of no-trust move against Khan.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Irfan Siddiqui revealed that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was offered the elections "on a plate" but he squandered the opportunity due to his stubbornness and bullying, The News reported Monday. 

The senator, while speaking during an interview on two private TV channels, said that it was decided that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would resign in May and elections would be held by September 2022. 

“It was decided that Shehbaz Sharif would resign in May, but the bullying tactics of Imran Khan forced the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to revise their plans,” revealed Siddiqui. 

“The message was also indirectly conveyed to Imran Khan that the government would be resigning and that elections for the four provincial assemblies and the National Assembly would be held by September 2022,” he said, adding that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif's stance on his brother's resignation was clear. 

The senator also said that Nawaz was not in favour of moving the no-confidence motion against Khan despite the widespread public discontentment with his government. 

“Instead, Nawaz Sharif believed that if allowed to continue, Imran Khan’s government would ultimately self-destruct under the weight of its own anti-people policies,” he disclosed during an interview. 

Furthermore, Senator Siddiqui clarified that while 90% of the revelations attributed to General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa by journalist Shahid Maitla were accurate but the claim that he had written about Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s “farewell speech” was false.

The senator also reiterated that Gen (retd) Bajwa was seeking an extension beyond November 2022 and that some senior PML-N leaders had also advised Nawaz to consider the request. “However, Nawaz Sharif remained steadfast in his belief that there should be no question of even one day’s extension,” he said.

Siddiqui revealed that even in 2019, Nawaz was vehemently against Bajwa's extension and the associated legislation. “Immense pressure from some PML-N members persuaded him to accept the decision as a temporary measure, but Sharif to this day, considers the extension to have been a wrong decision,” he said.

The senator shared that Maryam Nawaz, like her father, was also opposed to the continuation of the PDM government after the successful no-confidence motion. In fact, he said on several occasions, Maryam expressed her dissatisfaction with the situation, stating “why should we carry this basket of filth on our heads.”

He said the current premier also informed Gen (retd) Bajwa of the decision, and the army conveyed the message to Khan on its own. “Despite being advised by the army that there was no justification for his May 25 long march on Islamabad, Imran Khan announced the long march on May 22 in a press conference in Peshawar,” he said.

Senator Siddiqui said the PTI chief's aim was to take credit for the new elections by marching on Islamabad and telling the people that he took the date of the new elections by sending the government home. However, he said, when Nawaz Sharif learned of this plan, he stated that there should be no talk of resignation and new elections now, asserting that they would never be bullied by Khan.

“Instead, he challenged Imran Khan to test his strength. From this point on, the situation took a turn,” he said. Siddiqui said elections were offered to Imran Khan on a plate, an opportunity which he squandered due to his stubbornness and bullying. 

“While Imran Khan now yearns for elections, he will have to wait a bit longer,” he said, adding that the PTI chairman does not honestly want elections, but desires chaos and anarchy, which only reflects his lack of wisdom, landing him to his current position.