Imran Khan on Friday warned that he will dissolve the assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces ruled by his party if the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif does not sit down for talks and announce dates for the general elections.
Khan, 70, the chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, last week announced that his lawmakers will resign from the provincial assemblies as he withdrew a threat to march on the capital Islamabad by saying that it would result in destruction.
During a speech to the Punjab Parliamentary Party on Friday, Khan said: “Considering all this, I have decided that either this will happen that they sit with us [and decide a date for the polls or] imagine that there will be an election in almost 66 per cent of Pakistan — in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab — if we dissolve the assemblies.” “All these sitting 12-13 parties of the PDM will be taken out in the elections so, then the government will be frozen [if we dissolve the assemblies],” the former premier said.
He reiterated that “either they can sit with us and talk, give us a date for the general elections […] or else we will dissolve our assemblies.” Khan's PTI is in power in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan provinces.
However, the party is yet to announce a date for the dissolution of assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“We can give you the chance to sit with us and tell us if you want elections to take place in only 66 per cent of Pakistan and you keep sitting at the Centre?”, he said.
The federal government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led coalition has threatened to impose Governor's rule in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, however, offered a cautious welcome to Khan's offer for talks.
“When politicians sit tighter, issues are sorted out," Sanaullah said.
“Khan used to say that it is better for me to die than sitting with the government for talks. There is change in him. Our government always believes in talks," he added. Khan, the former cricketer-turned-politician, who was ousted as prime minister in April this year after a no-confidence motion was passed in the National Assembly, is seeking fresh general elections in Pakistan.
However, the federal government led by Prime Minister Sharif is opposed to holding elections now.
The term of the current National Assembly will end in August 2023.