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Incarcerated Imran Khan says he is ‘ready to talk’

After spending several months behind bars, Imran Khan, the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), expressed his willingness to engage in dialogue and emphasized his role as a politician open to discussion.

Speaking to reporters from Adiala jail in Rawalpindi, where he is detained in multiple cases, Khan highlighted his readiness for talks, a stance he claims to have maintained for the past 19 months.

Ousted through a no-confidence motion in April 2022, Khan and the PTI have faced a series of challenges in the lead-up to the upcoming general elections. The former Prime Minister was imprisoned in May of the previous year, and the PTI witnessed a significant departure of leaders, coupled with legal cases against its remaining members. Furthermore, the party faced setbacks as its electoral symbol was revoked, and an alliance with PTI-Nazriati was reneged upon.

Facing an uphill battle, the PTI’s major rivals, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), have already launched nationwide campaigns and allocated tickets for national and provincial constituencies. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari confidently asserted that the electoral competition now revolves around two parties, excluding the PTI, as its candidates are running independently.

Commenting on the current political landscape, Khan acknowledged efforts to establish a “controlled parliament” but admitted that his major mistake was accepting a weak government. He suggested that holding elections again would have been preferable to forming a weak coalition government, emphasizing that a strong government is essential for addressing the country’s economic challenges.

With the general elections scheduled for February 8, Khan’s hopes of contesting suffered a setback when the Lahore High Court rejected his appeal against the rejection of nomination papers earlier in the week. The court upheld decisions against accepting Khan’s nomination papers for NA-122 and NA-89 constituencies.

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