Imran Khan: Ex-Pakistan PM tells BBC crackdown on party is ‘untenable’

Pakistan's ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan has had a tough few weeks. Thousands of his supporters are in jail. Dozens from the leadership of his party have left - and it it could even be banned. Mr Khan himself could potentially be called before a military court.

"You think it is a big crisis for me, I don't," he tells me.

We are sitting inside a portacabin in the courtyard of his home in Lahore, Zaman Park. It has been turned into a media room where Mr Khan now conducts his live broadcasts on his social media platforms and his interviews - trying to win the narrative argument that he hasn't lost his chance at re-election.

That's a difficult argument to make with his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party so depleted. This week he lost more than two dozen colleagues, including Fawad Chaudrey, the PTI's former senior vice president, and Sherin Mazari, previously Mr Khan's human rights minister.

"Firstly, we will fill in all the positions of people who have left," he says. "So have younger blood, newer people coming in. They'll probably get arrested, too."

I ask if a political party can be run that way.

"You can use these terror tactics for only a short time. The whole situation is untenable."

But there's no suggestion that the crackdown on his party is about to let up.

Behind the scenes his supporters acknowledge that the situation is tough, although some insist that this is when Mr Khan is at his best - relishing a fight-back.

He is looking increasingly isolated. Gone are the crowds of supporters who had been ever-present at the gates to his home on all our previous visits to Lahore. Now many those inside the security gates are the party's lawyers.

Mr Khan is sounding more conciliatory. He is widely believed to have lost power because of a rift with the army, but now wants to talk to them. To suggest the military would have no role in Pakistan's politics is a "fool's paradise", he says.

"I'm curious to know how do they think - and by them I mean the establishment - that by getting me out of the race, how will Pakistan benefit?"

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If talks with the military were difficult before, it's hard to see why the army would want to speak to Mr Khan now when he is in a far weaker political position. He gave us no indication of what he would put on the table that wasn't an option before, saying only that he was offering talks.

Mr Khan has faced dozens of charges, from corruption to sedition, since he was ousted last year. So his arrest on 10 May was not unexpected.

It followed the collapse of other talks - on that occasion with the government - about when to hold provincial and national elections. It looks as if a deal was possible.

But the talks broke down in what feels like a political miscalculation.

The former prime minister insists this is not the case.

He flatly denies any similarity between the arrest of members of his party leadership and the jailing of political opponents when he was in office.

"95% of the cases against the opposition were before our time, the cases were ongoing," he says.

Stuck in what appears to be a political corner, what is next for Mr Khan? Either there is no grand plan, yet, or Mr Khan isn't eager to share it.

"I'm just watching this whole scenario, wait and see. It's possible that they'll put me in jail.

"The idea that I would give in to this or I will accept this and keep quiet about it, it's not going to happen."

No further details are shared.

Source: BBC

Constitution of Pakistan guarantees protection of rights of citizens: Tasneem

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Industries and Production Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi has said constitution of Pakistan ensures all basic rights including education, freedom of expression and religious practices to the people of the country.

He expressed these views while addressing an event to celebrate golden jubilee of the 1973 constitution of Pakistan at a local hotel in Sargodha.

The Minister of State said the 1973 constitution binds people of all the federating units and provides them with opportunity to practice political activities freely.

He said the role of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto will be remembered always for his contribution in framing the constitution.

The event was arranged by Shaheed Bhutto foundation in collaboration with Sargodha Bar Association.

Source: Radio Pakistan

First batch of intending pilgrims arrives in Makkah

The first batch comprised of 773 intending pilgrims has arrived in Makkah after spending its eight-night stay at Madinah.

Radio Pakistan’s correspondent Javed Iqbal reports from Makkah that pilgrims of the government Hajj scheme were given a rousing welcome by the Pakistan Hajj Mission and hotel management upon their arrival in the sacred city.

Director General Hajj Abdul Wahab Soomro, Director Hajj Faheem Khan Afridi, Joint Secretary Admin and Finance, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sajjad Haider Yaldram, along with officials from the Pakistan Hajj mission and hotel management, extended a heartfelt welcome to the hajj pilgrims.

The pilgrims were greeted with a cascade of rose petals and treated to a delectable spread of biryani, accompanied by refreshing juices.

Additionally, they were presented with delightful gifts including sweets.

Each hajj pilgrim was provided with an identification card that was equipped with scanning technology, enabling them to determine the building number and gather supplementary details.

These government scheme pilgrims had arrived in Madinah through three flights on 21 of this month.

This year, a total of 179,200 Pakistani pilgrims are expected to perform Hajj.

Out of this number, approximately 81,230 pilgrims will be partaking in Hajj under the government scheme, while the remaining individuals will be facilitated by private tour operators, as per the authorities' arrangements.

The last flight carrying Pakistani pilgrims is scheduled to depart for Saudi Arabia on 21 of next month.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Elections to be held on time in the country: Ahsan Iqbal

Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal has said that elections in the country will be held on time.

Talking to the media in Lahore on Monday, he said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leadership faced jails even in tough situations, but never raised hue and cry.

Ahsan Iqbal said no patriotic person can support negative propaganda being promoted by the PTI overseas social media against country's defence institutions.

He said attacks on country's institutions cannot be termed political protest.

Ahsan Iqbal said if any political worker would play role within the parameters of politics and democracy, then he would be considered as part of democracy.

To a question, he said Pakistan has met all conditions of International Monetary Fund and soon matters would be finalised which would definitely end uncertainty in the market.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Business friendly budget to be presented to expedite economic progress: Dar

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has reiterated to provide a business friendly budget in order to support masses and for the economic progress and development in the country.

He was talking to a delegation of Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan that called on him in Islamabad on Monday.

The delegates apprised the Finance Minister of the challenges being faced by the construction industry and presented their proposals for the upcoming Federal Budget. It also assured to support the Government in its efforts for overcoming the economic challenges and to boost the economic and business activities in the country.

Ishaq Dar appreciated the proposals presented by the delegation and assured them that the government is taking concrete steps to overcome the economic challenges and for strengthening the economy of the country.

The delegation thanked the Finance Minister for considering their budget proposals.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Govt making sincere efforts to address economic challenges: PM

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has said that the government is making sincere efforts to address the economic challenges through economic belt-tightening and timely policy interventions.

In a tweet, he said that the government is working with friends and partners to bridge the financing gaps where needed.

The Prime Minister said the real challenge for the government is to reduce dependence on imports and bring down inflation, which is possible when we make exports, investment and productivity the engine of the economy.

Shehbaz Sharif said Imran Niazi's understanding of the economy and the broader environment in which it operates is quite limited.

He said that from scrapping the IMF deal, Imran Khan always wished Pakistan to default.

Shehbaz Sharif said this is not to mention the plethora of corruption cases he is involved in.

The Prime Minister expressed regret that the terrible events of May 9 alone have cost the economy billions of rupees.

Source: Radio Pakistan