Saturday, April 29, 2023
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Saturday saw the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government's "ill-intentions" behind its proposal to hold elections simultaneously after this year's budget.
The budget is traditionally presented within the first two weeks of June and the federal government has maintained that it would be too early to hold general elections the next month, stressing for holding polls later this year.
The federal government and the opposition party PTI are in negotiations over a date for holding elections across the country on directions of the Supreme Court — and a final meeting is expected next week.
"[The government] is saying that first, it would pass the budget, and then hold the election. This shows its 'ill-intention'," Khan — who was ousted as the prime minister in April last year — said during a session with PTI workers in Lahore.
The deposed prime minister said his party would be ready to move forward with the negotiations if the government dissolves the national and provincial assemblies before May 14.
The Sindh and Balochistan assemblies and the National Assembly have not yet been dissolved, while the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa legislatures were dissolved in January on Khan's directions.
Civil society has urged political forces to reach a consensus over the elections and end the persistent impasse, which has severely hurt Pakistan's fragile economy.
And Khan is insistent that his party does not want to delay the elections, stressing that "we will not accept polls after the budget" — as suggested by the ruling coalition.
"If the hope of elections ends, then Pakistan could face a worse situation than Sri Lanka. I am not frightening you; I am just expressing my opinion," the PTI chief told his workers.
PTI's senior leaders — Fawad Chaudhry and Shah Mahmood Qureshi — had a day earlier warned of the election talks derailing if the government does not stop arresting its workers.
Hours after their warning, police and anti-corruption officials raided PTI President Parvez Elahi's residence in Lahore, but failed to arrest him despite a more than six-hour-long operation.
Although the party has not yet announced exiting the talks, Khan had condemned the arrest and said "enough is enough".