Lahore: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party chairman Imran Khan has thrown a challenge to Nawaz Sharif, saying he will contest against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo in “whatever constituency” he chooses in the upcoming polls.
Khan’s challenge came as a video posted from his X handle.
The former prime minister has been in Adiala Jail at Rawalpindi in the cipher case since early August and the video was recorded before his arrest.
“Nawaz Sharif was waiting to return to Pakistan once I am sent to jail and the PTI is eliminated. All the corruption cases against Nawaz and company have already been closed,” Khan said in the video, posted after Sharif returned to Pakistan after a four-year self-imposed exile in London.
Nawaz returned to Pakistan on October 21.
“Nawaz wanted this level playing field before going into polls. I will contest in any constituency Nawaz chooses. And I assure him that I will not even run a campaign in that constituency. I will tell you the feelings of Pakistani people. This country has changed as its people will never vote for such people. Social media has changed people. Gone are the days when those who had the patronage of the (military) establishment got elected,” Khan said further.
His party said in its post on X that chairman Khan had already intimated the nation about the ‘London Plan’ on numerous occasions and added: “With absconder Nawaz Sharif’s return, the plan appears to be unfolding as anticipated. State protocol, public resources, and use of public money to facilitate a convict can’t sway the public’s opinion who want nothing less than immediate, free, and fair elections.”
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced that general elections are expected to be held in the last week of January 2024, however, no specific date has been announced.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari alleged that the ECP would give the polls date once Nawaz gets clean chit from the courts in all the cases he is facing. Both the PPP and PTI have called Nawaz a ‘new ladla’ (favourite) of the military establishment.
Khans’ party said Nawaz returned to the country after four years exile because of the blessing of the military establishment which has given him assurance to make him the next prime minister.
On the other hand, Khan is facing around 200 cases. Two new parties — Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party and PTI-Parliamentarians — have been carved out of Khan’s party by the establishment in which a number of his former aides joined after blaming him for masterminding attacks on the military installations across the country in early May after his arrest.
Granting a major legal relief to the former premier after his return from London following four years of self-exile, Pakistan’s Punjab provincial government on Tuesday suspended Nawaz’s seven-year sentence in the Al-Azizia case while two separate courts confirmed his bail in three different corruption cases.