News Desk: Pakistan's ousted prime minister and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has warned that the country would descend into a civil war if elections were not announced.
In an unusual attack on Pakistan's powerful military, ousted PM Imran Khan has admitted that his government was a "weak one" which was "blackmailed from everywhere" as the power was not with him and "everyone knows where that is".
Imran Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
He had reportedly fallen out with the country's powerful military before he was removed by a united opposition that accused him of mismanaging the government, the economy and foreign relations.
"We will see if they allow us to go towards elections through legal and constitutional means otherwise this country will go towards civil war," he said in an interview with anchorperson Sami Ibrahim for Bol News programme Tajzia.
Imran further said there was "no question" of returning to the National Assembly as that would "mean accepting the conspiracy" that had removed his government.
He said he was waiting for the apex court to decide on his party's plea to provide protection to the protestors, after which he said he would issue the date for the next march.
Last month, Imran Khan gave government a 6-day ultimatum to announce new election date after leading thousands of supporters to the capital Islamabad in a showdown with his political rivals.
During the interview, the PTI chief admitted he did not enjoy absolute power as the prime minister, indicating that the actual centres of power in the country lay elsewhere and "everyone knows where that is."
"Pakistan is going towards a default. If that happens then which institution will be [worst] hit? The army. After it is hit, what concession will be taken from us? Denuclearisation."
Imran said that if Pakistan were to lose its nuclear deterrent capability, it would be fragmented into three pieces. "If the right decisions aren't made at this time then the country is going towards suicide," he warned.
Imran's comments drew strong reactions from his political opponents yesterday.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif accused Imran of "making naked threats against the country", deeming him "unfit for public office" and warning him against "talking about [the] division of Pakistan".
Hours after the interview was broadcast, PM Shehbaz tweeted: "While I am in Turkey inking agreements, Imran Niazi is making naked threats against the country. If at all any proof was needed that Niazi is unfit for public office, his latest interview suffices."
"Losing power does not mean that you wage a war against Pakistan, its unity and its institutions," he said, warning Imran not to "attack" the federation and country's institutions. "Don't exceed the limits [defined] by the law and Constitution."
Earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari also condemned Imran's remarks.
"No one can talk about fragmenting Pakistan. This is not that language of a Pakistani but that of [Indian PM] Modi," he said.
"Imran Khan, power is not everything in this world. Be brave and learn to do politics standing on your own feet," Zardari berated the PTI chief, saying that the "wish of dividing this country into three pieces cannot be realised until we and our future generations live".
Imran Khan's attempt to destabilise Shehbaz's month-old coalition government risks fuelling tensions during an economic crisis that has forced Pakistan to seek urgent help from the International Monetary Fund.