'No deal on cards even if Imran Khan gets harsher punishment'

Haider Sherazi
PTI founder Imran Khan speaks during an interview in Lahore on March 17, 2023. — Reuters
PTI founder Imran Khan speaks during an interview in Lahore on March 17, 2023. — Reuters

  • Hassan says PTI is in contact with envoys of different countries.
  • PTI to review statements of deserters who are willing to rejoin party.
  • "Ask Bushra Bibi if anyone has contacted her for a deal."

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) Information Secretary Rauf Hassan on Friday said that the party founder, Imran Khan — who has recently been convicted in a couple of cases — "will not make a deal" even if he gets a harsher punishment.

Legal woes of the PTI supremo multiplied when an accountability court earlier this week sentenced the former prime minister and his spouse Bushra Bibi to 14 years in prison with rigorous punishment in the Toshakhana reference. The blow came just a day after a special court awarded 10-year imprisonment to Khan in a case related to cipher.

However, the PTI stresses that the former premier, who was removed from power via a no-confidence vote in April 2022, would stand firm in the face of punishment.

"The PTI founder will not make a deal even if [he gets] a harsher punishment," Hassan said while speaking to journalists in Islamabad.

"Ask Bushra Bibi if anyone has contacted her for a deal," he added.

He said that PTI has been in contact with envoys of different countries and the leaders have met some of them and some have even assured of free and fair elections in the country.

However, he said the party doesn't issue statements about these meetings.

Hassan also ruled out horse trading involving the PTI-backed independent contestants for February 8 polls, saying that the party's candidates won't sell themselves. "[We] believe that the PTI nominated candidates will not change their loyalties."

The politician further said that the party gave tickets to nearly 27 lawyers on the basis of the strategy that the lawyers cannot be arrested.

Speaking about Imran's former ally Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Hassan said that the PTI had been unfair to itself by joining hands with the Awami Muslim League (AML) leader.

Moreover, the PTI's info secretary also said that all those who had parted ways with the party "are willing to rejoin".

"The PTI will review the anti-party statements of deserters who are willing to rejoin."

Speaking about the party's decision to defer the intra-party polls, Hassan said that staging the internal elections didn't seem possible in the light of the country's situation and workers' in-availability due to general polls.

He said that the former ruling party would adopt a digital way to hold the party polls whenever it happens. 

The PTI has been facing a slew of legal challenges for a while as the former prime minister received convictions in multiple cases, while the party was also stripped of its iconic electoral symbol

Losing the electoral symbol ahead of polls forced the PTI to field independent candidates as it no longer had the status of a political party without a party head.