Hostilities escalate
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Two days after Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan made incendiary claims that the Prime Minister had offered Rs.10 billion in exchange for his silence, opposition leader Khurshid Shah has labeled the allegations as “a scandal bigger than Panama”. However, he failed to expound upon why the bribery claim was more significant than the international money laundering charges faced by the PM. The PPP leader took a severe stance on Imran Khan’s allegations stating that if the PTI chief fails to provide conclusive evidence to back his claims then he should give up politics. “He [Imran] will have to own the statement as well as disclose [name of the person making the offer],” he declared.

“If Imran remains unable to prove his allegations, then it means there’s no leader more irresponsible than him.”

Previously, in the aftermath of the Panama verdict, the PML-N accused PTI and PPP of conspiring together to bring down the PML-N. To address this Imran Khan issued a statement asserting that his struggle was against the corrupt establishment of which both PML-N and PPP were a part. His efforts to distinguish his party’s agenda from that of PPP has driven a wedge between what seemed to be a cohesive movement against the PML-N government, evident by the harsh language used in Mr. Shah’s statement. “If Imran remains unable to prove his allegations, then it means there’s no leader more irresponsible than him.” The opposition leader concluded.

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“If the allegation is proven true, then people should not forgive me, but if it’s a lie, then the court should take action against Khan.”

Yesterday, in response to the bribery allegations leveled by Mr. Khan, the government stated that they are considering filing a defamation case against him. During a meeting with his legal experts, it has been reported that the Prime Minister was advised that he should file a defamation case against Imran Khan. Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, who is the main subject of the allegations, has stated that “If the allegation is proven true, then people should not forgive me, but if it’s a lie, then the court should take action against Khan.” Sources indicate that PM’s legal team is also weighing options to file a review of the Supreme Court’s verdict.

The Chief Minister also criticized PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari for terming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as his initiative, saying that if CPEC was his initiative then how had he forgotten to lay the foundation stone of the Gwadar Port?

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Senior PTI leader, Asad Umar has also conceded that Imran Khan may have made a miscalculation when he revealed the offer, saying “He [Imran Khan] should not have made the claim. I know, by the way, that it is true and I even know the name of the person who made the offer. But I cannot reveal the name without that person’s consent,”

Lately, there has been an escalation of hostilities between the government establishments and Imran Khan. Yesterday, a PTI press conference that was supposed to take place at the Press Information Department (PID), which has been the location of several other press briefings by political personalities recently, was blocked by the administration. PTI lawmakers accused the department of using public tax money to further the narrative of the PML-N.

The party is scheduled to hold a rally in Islamabad today and has announced plans of holding a ‘Huqooq-e-Karachi March’.

The Election Commission of Pakistan, also, has blocked PTI candidates from using the party’s “bat” symbol in the by-elections. The ECP has issued a statement saying that “symbol bat” could not be allotted to the PTI in future elections “till the completion of intra-party elections and fulfillment of legal requirements by the party”. This sparked outrage from PTI party members who claim that the ECP is singling out the party. The ECP dismissed these allegations, calling them “ridiculous”.

PTI has also ramped up its efforts to combat the growing rhetoric against them. The party is scheduled to hold a rally in Islamabad today and has announced plans of holding a ‘Huqooq-e-Karachi March’. PTI leader Ali Haider Zaidi informed the media that the rally will be led by Imran Khan and will start from Mazar-e-Quaid and end at Jail Chowrangi.

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The political temperature of the country is steadily increasing as the political parties move towards electioneering mode and each party tries to win over voters.

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