Criticising the ruling party on several fronts, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairperson Imran Khan on Sunday demanded that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi seek a fresh mandate by holding early elections.
“This is necessary for a democracy,” the PTI leader said during a press conference in Islamabad. “In order to save and strengthen the democracy, you [PM Abbasi] should move towards elections. Seek the people’s mandate.”
During the press conference, Khan criticised the ruling party on several fronts, stating that the country’s foreign affairs were being affected.
Khan said that the statement made by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif ─ and later endorsed by PM Abbasi and reiterated by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal ─ that Pakistan needs to “put its house in order” was “endangering” the country.
The statement is similar to the narrative adopted by New Delhi at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he added.
During her address at the UNGA on Saturday, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had called Pakistan an “export factory for terror”. Last year, India had termed Pakistan a “terrorist state.”
Khan questioned why the government had not ‘brought its house in order’ four years ago under the National Action Plan.
Khan said that the prime minister was making “irresponsible statements” at a time when Pakistan was facing immense pressure from India and America in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s South Asian policy announcement, during which he lambasted Pakistan for offering safe havens to “agents of chaos”.
‘Nobody to speak for Pakistan’
Khan said that Washington’s South Asian policy had humiliated Pakistan on the international platform and “there was nobody to speak for the country.”
He added that Trump’s statement placed the blame for America’s failed policy in Afghanistan on Pakistan.
“Where was our foreign minister when this policy was being developed?” Khan asked, adding that at that time the ruling party was pre-occupied with the verdict of the Panama Papers case. He said that the ruling party was embarrassing Pakistan abroad.
“Keeping in view the country’s internal and external challenges, I demand that the prime minister, on an urgent basis, hold elections and seek a fresh mandate,” Khan stressed.
‘Poor subsiding the rich’
On the economic front, Khan said that the government ─ by increasing indirect taxes ─ was damaging the country’s industries and reducing exports.
He claimed that due to heavy taxation, electricity and gas was becoming increasingly expensive in the country.
Khan said that, under the current tax scheme, the “poor are subsiding the rich”.
He also criticized the government for not being able to reach quorum in the National Assembly, session after session.