Islamabad: Amid growing political challenges for him and his party ahead of the upcoming general elections, former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he is "open for dialogue" and "ready to talk," Geo News reported.
"For the last 19 months, I have been saying that I'm ready to talk...I'm a politician," Khan told journalists in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail, where he's been incarcerated in numerous cases.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder, who was ousted in a no-confidence move in April of 2022, has been facing consecutive setbacks in the lead up to the general elections.,
Initially, Khan was jailed in May last year, after which he was hit with an exodus of leaders and cases being lodged against his party's remaining workers. Later, the party's electoral symbol - a major voter driving force was taken away this month, and the party - PTI-Nazriati - with which it sought an alliance also backtracked from its commitment.
While referring to the prevailing political landscape in the country, Khan said that steps were being taken to form a "controlled parliament".
"My biggest mistake was to accept a weak government. Instead of a weak government, I should have held elections again. It would be better to sit in the opposition rather than a weak coalition government," Geo News quoted him as saying.
Responding to a question, the PTI founder said that a hung parliament or feeble government could not address the economic problems being faced by the country.
"Reforms and improvement can only be done by a strong government," he added. However, as the embattled PTI faces uphill tasks, its major rivals - the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) - have already commenced nationwide campaigns and distributed tickets for national and provincial constituencies, according to Geo News.
The PPP and the PML-N are eyeing to form governments in the centre, with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari confidently saying that the elections are now just between two parties as the PTI is out of the electoral race - since its candidates will be running independently.
With general elections set to take place on February 8, Khan's hopes were shattered to contest as the Lahore High Court (LHC) earlier this week turned down his appeal against the rejection of nomination papers. The high court upheld the decisions of the returning officer (RO) and appellate tribunal given against acceptance of the disqualified former premier's nomination papers from NA-122 and NA-89 constituencies, Geo News reported.