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‘I Can Still Hold Larger Rallies Than PDM’

by Newsweek Pakistan
P.M. Imran Khan

File photo of P.M. Imran Khan. YouTube

P.M. Imran Khan reiterates stance that he is open for dialogue but will not give an ‘NRO’ to the opposition

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that, if he wanted, he could still hold rallies larger than that of the united opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), but he did not want to violate COVID-19 preventative measures.

In a media interaction at Governor’s House in Peshawar, he said he was not concerned about the opposition’s public meetings, adding that he had been “very relaxed” on Dec. 13—the day of the Lahore rally—as was evident from pictures of him spending time with his pets that day. “The people are not fools; they won’t take to the streets for someone who is in London,” he said, referring to Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) supremo Nawaz Sharif.

The prime minister reiterated his belief that the PDM’s interests did not align with that of Pakistan, maintaining that the opposition merely wanted amnesty from the corruption cases against its leaders. “I will never bow to any pressure,” he said, adding that the opposition’s “drama” was doomed to fail.

Khan also referred to a speech of his following his inauguration as prime minister, saying he had predicted that the opposition would united to protect their vested interests. “They are dacoits who are trying to blackmail me, but I will never give them an NRO,” he reiterated. “If I were to give an NRO to them, what is the crime of common people who are languishing in jails for years.”

To a question, the prime minister confirmed that the government wanted to hold Senate polls in February, adding that the Supreme Court’s guidance would be sought for this purpose. He said “everyone” knew that Senate votes had been bought in the last elections, adding that this was the reason the government wanted to conduct the polls via show-of-hands rather than secret ballots. He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was confident of winning the Senate polls, because it enjoyed majority in Parliament.

To another question, Khan said the majority of the cases against the opposition hadn’t even been initiated under his government, and reiterated that he would always be open for dialogue—just not on accountability and corruption.

The prime minister was on a daylong visit to Peshawar on Wednesday, during which he inaugurated the Peshawar Cardiology Institute, as well as a cricket stadium at the Hayatabad Sports Complex. He also attended a check distribution ceremony of the Kamyab Jawan Program, and chaired a meeting of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa cabinet.

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