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Imran Khan ready to join grand alliance on the Panama Papers scam

29 December, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has expressed his readiness to join any grand alliance of opposition parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), on the Panama Papers scam.

“If opposition parties form any alliance on the issue, we are ready for it, but not for (coming general) elections,” he said during a talk with reporters at his Banigala residence here on Wednesday.

It was perhaps in the hope of emergence of any alliance on Panamagate in near future that Mr Khan avoided making comments on the return of PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and about his possible future role.

“Like every ball is not played during batting, I am leaving this ball,” the cricketer-turned politician said smilingly when asked to comment on Mr Zardari’s decision to contest a by-election on a National Assembly seat to give a tough time to the government in the parliament.

“I want to see if the PPP will really do opposition against the PML-N. Between 2008 and 2013, both parties ruled the country together and there was no opposition in the country,” said Mr Khan whose party had boycotted the 2008 elections, following which the PPP had formed its government at the centre.

“Even before surfacing of the Panama Papers leaks issue, these two parties were together,” he said and added that since the 2013 general elections, only the PTI had been playing the role of true opposition despite having fewer seats than the PPP.

He said that [PPP chairman] Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and the PPP’s Punjab chapter did try to play the role of true opposition, but “let’s see if the party will do more opposition or less opposition” after Mr Zardari’s return.

When asked what he wanted the PPP to do as a real opposition party, the PTI chief simply replied that he would like to see how they would now make the prime minister answerable to parliament.

Replying to a question, he said that new chief justice Saqib Nisar should be given full opportunity to work, adding that they wanted him to restore the confidence of people in the judiciary. “This nation is yearning for justice.”

Mr Khan said that he was disappointed with the previous bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali because they did not finish the Panamagate case despite almost completing the task.

He said they had opposed formation of a commission on the issue because they had complete trust in the SC bench. But the bench left the case at a time when it was only a matter of days as they had already finished their arguments and submitted all documents.

The PTI chief accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of ruining every state institution. He alleged that Mr Sharif had damaged the institutions even more than military dictators.

Mr Khan said his party endorsed Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s proposal that the National Accountability Bureau’s chairman should be appointed through the judiciary. “How can Nawaz Sharif and [Opposition Leader Syed] Khurshid Shah appoint the NAB chairman when both of them are facing corruption charges?” he argued.

“We will not let them rig elections this time,” he vowed, saying that they had learnt a lot in the 2013 elections and through the findings of the judicial commission on the poll rigging.

Asked why he still termed the 2013 elections rigged and engineered even after the inquiry commission’s report, he said that they had “accepted” the report, but regretted that no step had been taken towards removing deficiencies in the election system as pointed out by the commission.

The PTI chairman said that his party had started the process of selection of candidates for the next elections. He admitted that in the previous elections, the party had not selected suitable candidates in many constituencies because of lack of time. This time, he added, they had started making profiles of possible candidates and he would himself decide each and every ticket.

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