JEDDAH – PTI Chairman Imran Khan has again claimed a sweeping victory in next general polls, saying his party provides a choice to the people stuck in the two-party system. “Suddenly, they see a viable third option; so people are coming to us,” Imran Khan told Saudi Gazette in an interview.

“We became the only genuine opposition to them. The negative vote is far stronger than the positive vote. People trust us. I’m the only politician people trust with their money,” Imran said. “But basically people are sick of these political parties and that’s why they have started coming to us. And this is not a new thing. It has been a slow process over the last three years. The more disillusioned they became the more they looked for hope and change which is our party. It is the total disillusionment with them (parties in power) which is why people are coming to us.” When asked how Pakistan balances friendship in the Arab world and the ties with Iran, the PTI chief suggested that Islamabad should not take sides.

“Saudi Arabia is a long-tried friend of Pakistan and that friendship has stood the test of time. We can act as a bridge in resolving differences. But Pakistan cannot afford to take sides. Because you cannot change your neighbours and we do not want to lose Saudi Arabia as a friend. It will be a disaster for Pakistan to take sides because either way Pakistan will lose out.” Replying to a question about his stand for democracy and the decision to boycott 2008 general elections and the recent by-polls, Imran termed the elections in 2008 as an exercise based on NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance).

“We boycotted because: First, it was the worst type of pre-poll rigging; second, the chief justice was under house arrest when the election was declared. We thought the NRO was illegal and unconstitutional; later on it was proved so by the Supreme Court. We thought the PCO (Provisional Constitutional Order of 2007) was illegal under which the elections were called; the Supreme Court called it illegal.” The PTI chairman added, “We predicted that this government under the unholy NRO would be the worst government in the history of Pakistan, and this election was not for the people of Pakistan. It was actually for the government to serve American interests, and that’s what happened.”

He also replied a query about democracy in his own party, saying they were about to launch the biggest membership campaign in the history of Pakistan, after party polls would be held right from the union council level. About the induction of old guards in PTI, he claimed the best political class was joining the party and all the big names did not have any financial corruption cases against them. About the hearing of Asghar Khan case, he said, “It’s a landmark case in Pakistan’s history because first of all I’m very happy that this case has finally come to the Supreme Court because we are being accused of being backed by the establishment.

 This case will establish which political parties have been given money by the establishment.” “This case is important because Pakistan’s democracy has moved on. We don’t want any interference by the establishment in democracy. This case could put an end to the interference of agencies in Pakistan’s democratic process.”

Imran said the incumbent government could never distance itself from the US, as it relied on American aid and loans, adding that Pakistan have to survive without the US aid; otherwise, it would always be catering for the interests of another county rather than its own interests.

He said the dependence on foreign assistance should be ended overnight. “The sacrifice has to be made sooner than later.”

To a question how can he wean away Pakistan from the US aid and take measures to stop drone attacks, Imran said, “Drones are counter-productive. This is the most senseless and immoral way of fighting a war. It has created more anti-Americanism. It has created more militancy. And the Pakistanis have paid the price for revenge attacks against drones.”

He described political solution as the only available option to resolve the Afghan crisis. “The military solution has failed in Afghanistan, it has failed in Pakistan. So if Pakistan has a credible government it can become a partner in peace. It can’t be treated as a hired gun any more where we are being paid to fight someone else’s war. This will eventually destroy Pakistan.”