Defence Minister Khwaja Asif on Monday alleged that PTI chief and former prime minister Imran Khan was trying to open the “doors of negotiation” with the establishment in his “desperation for power”.

“On one side, he is attacking them [the establishment] and on other hand, he wants to open the doors of negotiations or dialogue as well,” he said in an interview with SAMAA TV.

Asif’s claims come two days after Imran, at a rally in Gujranwala, warned the establishment that it would be held responsible if the country and economy were to “plummet any further” under the incumbent government.

“I want to ask the establishment … the way this government is taking this country and economy down … I know that you call yourself neutral but this nation will hold you responsible for the way the country is going down,” the PTI chief said.

The former prime minister also apprised that the failure to hold “free and fair elections” in the country would see his supporters hold peaceful streets on his call and have their demands accepted “by force”.

In an interview today, the defence minister said that Imran’s statement showed that he wanted to talk to the establishment at “gunpoint” and “by force”.

“He just wants to take his government back, whether it is in the right or wrong way […] this is [his] desperation for power,” Asif alleged.

He went on to say that Imran was using pressure tactics, recalling that before the PTI chief was ousted, he was an “admirer” of the establishment. “At that time, the establishment was fine […] but today, you are abusing and attacking them.”

Imran, the minister alleged, “does not even know the spelling of democracy” and was a man of an “imperialist mind”. “And this is the reason he wants the establishment to support him,” he added.

“But, the time is here […] after 75 years the establishment has adopted a role which is legal and constitutional. And it is important that we as politicians protect this role.

“The establishment is standing with the Constitution, not with an individual or political party […] God willing, in the upcoming years the role of the establishment will be the same and we will support it,” Asif vowed.

Talking about the contempt of court proceedings against Imran, the minister said a legal course would be taken in that but called out the ex-premier for trying to disrupt the legal processes.

“Even when it comes to courts, he [Imran] wants to get a decision of his choice. He accused us of closing cases, but he is doing the same right now,” Asif added.

He also said that the only “red line” for the government was the country, its law, and Constitution. “And Imran Khan has crossed these red lines several times in the last few months.”

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