Imran Khan to implement ‘radical plan’ if returns to power

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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — Instagram/@imrankhan.pti
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — Instagram/@imrankhan.pti 
  • When in power, we won’t have much time, former PM says.
  • PTI chief aims to make policies like “never before”.
  • If back in PM House, Khan will reappoint Shaukat Tarin as finance minister.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who sees himself returning to power in August, has said that he would go back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and implement his “radical plan” for the economy.

In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, the deposed prime minister, who was ousted in April last year through a no-confidence motion, said that he “expects to win a majority when general elections are held” — which is likely to take place sometime after August this year.

The PTI chief said he “is preparing a ‘radical’ plan to strengthen the weakening economy which, according to him, would be in much worse shape by the time polls take place.

“If we get into power, we won’t have much time,” the 70-year-old Khan said. To question about returning to the IMF, he said: “We have no choice now.”

After the IMF held up its loan payments to Pakistan, the country was — in recent months — inching closer to a debt default and its bond yields drove towards distressed levels.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who assumed office after Khan’s ouster, remains cautious of the international money-lending institution’s demands such as increasing taxes and energy prices.

Foreign exchange reserves of the country have fallen by half since October last year, leaving them inadequate for the payment of one month’s imports.

Pakistan also reels from the devastating impact of flooding last summer, as well as bearing with the rising inflation rates.

A day earlier, the IMF requested additional information about the budget and other areas from Islamabad before beginning virtual negotiations, amid the country’s urgent need to generate $10 billion in foreign loans for the remainder of the current fiscal year to prevent default.

Sharing his fears about the country moving towards a Sri Lanka-like default, Imran Khan said: “We will have to make policies like never before in our country.”

He also aims to appoint former finance minister Senator Shaukat Tarin, who served during his administration, to the same coveted position again.

The former premier took to the streets after being ousted from power. Khan’s call against PM Shehbaz’s rule in the Centre led to protests aimed at calling for early polls.

Khan, during his last major decision in the PM office, reduced prices of fuel impeding the IMF programme as a result. The ex-prime minister justified his decision on the basis of his plans to acquire Russia’s discounted fuel. The decision came following his previously scheduled visit to Russia — a day before the country invaded Ukraine last February.

In his three-hours-long meeting with Khan, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured help with energy supplies, the PTI chairman said.

The ex-chief executive of Pakistan shared his plans to pursue an independent foreign policy which doesn’t rely on one country such as China or the United States.

Quoting India as an example, the ex-premier spoke about its friendly relations with the US, despite importing oil from Russia at reduced rates and trading with China.

The PTI chief also revealed about his relationship with former US president Donald Trump, however, he blames his successor PM Shehbaz for deteriorating his ties with Pakistan.

“It’s only when Joe Biden came along that for some reason I found that there was reluctance there,” Khan said. He added that it could have been the case as the Biden-led administration wanted to blame its exit from Afghanistan on someone.

Tactics for early elections

In his bid to pressurise the Shehbaz-led government in Islamabad to conduct early polls, the PTI chief — along with his allies — dissolved the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies this month. His move has triggered polls in the two provinces.

Imran Khan shared fears that the elections in Pakistan will be rigged to keep him away from power and termed his ouster “regime change”. The PTI’s top leader said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition — with governments in the Centre, Sindh and Balochistan — are “scared” as they took part in the process of ousting him.

“We know exactly who was responsible for it,” Khan said, alleging the role of the country’s establishment.

Khan has powerful enemies

With heavy security deployed outside his residence in Lahore, Khan fears threats to his life. While Khan has blamed PM Shehbaz and an officer from the country’s intelligence for the attack on him in November last year, his claims have been categorically denied.

“Right now I’m afraid, I have powerful enemies. The entire political status quo is against me,” he said.

Earlier today, Khan’s party shared fears of his arrest citing reports circulating about the possibility. Security officials have already detained PTI’s Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry today.

In the police complaint, Chaudhry has been accused of threatening senior officials of the Election Commission.

PTI supporters gathered outside Khan’s residence to support him after the party appealed to protect him from security forces.

“They have to go through the courageous females and youth to get through to Kaptaan at Zaman Park!” the PTI mentioned in a tweet about Khan.

The party added: “Pakistanis are brave and determined, Lahore now belongs to Kaptaan.”

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