Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan, during an interview aired on Tuesday night, made it clear that the party would use “any strategy” that would help it defeat PML-N and win the July 25 elections.
Khan, while speaking to Geo News’ Hamid Mir on the program ‘Capital Talk’, said: “For elections 2018, we have just one strategy: defeat Noon [N] League.”
Mir questioned Khan about seat adjustments with parties — such as Awami Muslim League and PML-Q — that the leader had previously lambasted. “Perhaps I have the best training when it comes to competing since I have been a sportsman. The strategy is to win the match — and our [PTI’s] match is against PML-N.”
“We will adopt every strategy that will help us defeat PML-N,” said the PTI chief, adding that including people from other parties to the PTI and seat adjustments were all part of the main goal: to win the elections.
“We will also do seat adjustments where we feel PTI doesn’t have a strong candidate against PML-N but some other anti-N League candidate can win the seat.”
Over the last few weeks, the selection of so-called electables in numerous constituencies across the country as PTI candidates has led to discontent and protest among the party’s older members.
The PTI chief, however, during the interview stuck to his choice of candidates, saying there was a “misconception” that change wasn’t taking place because of the same old faces. “It’s not about the ‘electables’; it’s about the leaders at the top.”
“Even if you bring angels under Nawaz [Sharif] or [Asif Ali] Zardari, it won’t make a difference,” he said, going after the PML-N and PPP leaders. “It is the leader who gets rid of corruption. If the leader is strong, so will be the nation.”
Tareen vs Qureshi
When asked about PTI leaders Jahangir Tareen and Shah Mehmood Qureshi “publicly fighting”, Khan admitted that there are differences amid the party and “it is very difficult to stop them”.
In 2016, unfortunately, we tried conducting intra-party elections and two groups were formed — Tareen’s and Qureshi’s, said Khan. “This is the fallout from that,” he said, going on to downplay the conflict.”It’s not a big issue […] it stops being an issue when you form the government.”
The anchor, however, pointed out that when Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister, his government’s interior minister, Chauhdry Nisar, and defence minister at the time, Khawaja Asif, were at odds and their differences affected the country.
Khan, however, remained adamant that as long as the leader at the top is “strong”, it would not become an issue.
‘PTI supports PTM’
Bringing up the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Khan said that most of what the movement was demanding, was correct. “I’ve been talking about the same things as the PTM,” he said, stressing the need to streamline the tribal areas.
“The best way is the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)-Fata merger, so that development is fast. If the merger is delayed, then unrest will spread again.”
Khan then came back to the PTM, saying that the PTI has tried to solve the community’s problems with its leaders. He also said that PTI will not field a candidate against PTM’s South Waziristan candidate Ali Wazir as “a goodwill gesture”.
Mir also asked Khan about the reports regarding his relationship with Sita White, asking the leader what can be done to quash the controversy that keeps resurfacing.
Earlier this month, Abdul Wahab Baluch, a candidate of the Justice and Democratic Party (JDP) headed by former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, filed a petition against Khan’s eligibility to contest the elections, saying the PTI chief’s nomination papers should be rejected because he did not disclose he had a daughter as a result of his “relations with Ana-Luisa (Sita) White”.
In a written reply, Khan had dismissed the allegations. “All the objections are false, fabricated and based on unverified documents.”
During the interview, Khan alleged that the Sharif brothers go after his personal life as they have nothing against him when it comes to corruption.
“Nobody is an angel and everyone has flaws. I have been in politics for 22 years now and they [Sharifs and opponents] keep attacking my personal life. Either they come after the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital or they talk about Sita White and Jemima [Goldsmith].” He alleged that the PML-N leaders were behind JDP’s petition and his former wife’s upcoming book.
When asked about addressing the controversy with a simple yes or no answer, Khan said: “It’s a non issue. Why would I answer this? Is Imran Khan being honest with the country’s money? That’s the only issue at the moment.”
Touching briefly upon the departure of PTI supporter Zulfiqar Hussain Bukhari aka Zulfi Bukhari to Saudi Arabia earlier this month on a one-time “permission”, Khan said he could not understand why the incident was made into an issue.
“He was born and brought up in the United Kingdom (UK), runs a business in UK. I don’t understand why the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is trying a person who has no ties with Pakistan. If anyone, it should be the UK government questioning him.”
According to sources in NAB, Bukhari is accused of owning an offshore company and having assets beyond his known sources of income.
They said following directions of the Supreme Court to take action against all those who owned offshore firms, NAB had served three notices to Bukhari to appear before it.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2018