- Khan says Asif Zardari has “hired terrorists” to hit me.
- Says “agencies” behind new assassination conspiracy.
- Predicts “insurmountable” economic challenges ahead.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Friday alleged that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was hatching as well as financing an assassination plot against him for which the ex-president had hired “terrorists”.
In a virtual press conference, Khan — who was ousted as the prime minister in April last year — claimed four people orchestrated a plan “behind closed doors” to assassinate him.
“I got to know about it and then I recorded my video explaining the attack. In a public rally, I announced that I would release the video if something happened to me. They stepped back after this.”
Without naming anyone again, Khan said that another plan was made to have me killed by a religious extremist — indicating towards the November 3, 2022, Wazirabad attack, where he was shot in the legs and is still recovering from the injuries.
“Now, there’s a Plan C. Asif Zardari is behind it. He has amassed a lot of money through corruption and he has invested that money in terrorists and hired a militant organisation.”
Khan claimed that “agencies” were involved in this plot. “I am [revealing] these names as my nation should know who were [behind] these attacks,” he said.
The ex-prime minister said that the nation should be aware of who was behind his assassination bid so “they cannot enjoy their lives after they have done this”.
“The nation is looking towards the judiciary as this is a decisive moment,” the PTI chief said, mentioning that since his ouster, several people have been unmasked.
‘Insurmountable’ economic challenges
Following the rupee’s historic fall against the US dollar in the country, the PTI chief hit out at the incumbent government and predicted hyperinflation and “insurmountable” economic challenges in days to come.
“During the past three days, the local unit plunged by Rs33 against the US dollar,” he said. “The rupee fell by Rs84 during the last nine months.”
While giving the reasons behind the devaluation of the local currency, the deposed prime minister said that the country’s foreign currency reserves have reached a record low. “Foreign currency reserves sank to $3.6 billion.”
The ex-premier also lambasted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, saying he had now become aware of what sort of a “genius” Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar was.
The Pakistani rupee extended its downward trend today with the local currency plunging Rs7.17, or 2.73%, against the US dollar in the interbank market as the government eased its control over the currency in order to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release pending loan tranche.
Attempts by FinMin Dar to defend the rupee since his appointment in September, including reported currency market interventions, had run counter to the IMF’s advice.
Facing an acute balance of payments crisis, Pakistan is desperate to secure external financing, with less than three weeks’ worth of import cover in its foreign exchange reserves, which fell $923 million to $3.68 billion in the latest data.
Pakistan secured a $6 billion IMF bailout in 2019. It was topped up with another $1 billion last year to help the country following devastating floods, but the IMF then suspended disbursements in November due to Pakistan’s failure to make more progress on fiscal consolidation.
In 2019, the PTI government brokered a multi-billion-dollar loan package from the lender of the last resort.
But the economy slid backwards when Khan reneged on his promise to cut subsidies and market interventions that had cushioned the cost-of-living crisis.
PM Shehbaz Sharif, who ousted Khan in a no-confidence vote last spring, has also been reluctant to meet loan conditions amid falling popularity.