LAHORE: Pakistani politician Imran Khan yesterday vowed to cooperate with incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on terrorism and other major challenges following key elections.
Khan made the remarks from his hospital bed, where he is laid up with a fractured spine after falling at a campaign rally, after his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) polled third place, behind Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).
“We have decided that despite severe differences that we have, we will work together to resolve major national problems including terrorism,” Khan said in a video message aired during a PTI press conference.
He harshly criticized Sharif and the center-right PML-N during the campaign for last Saturday’s general election and had vowed to go into opposition.
Sharif pledged to work with Khan for the good of the country, after visiting the former cricket star in hospital on Tuesday.
Khan is credited with helping to inspire 60 percent turnout at the polls, having galvanized the youth and urban middle class in particular with promises to end corruption, introduce tax reform and stand up to the Americans.
“Elections are over and we all as a nation want to move forward,” Khan said, adding he wanted all politicians and the military to sit down together and find a solution to domestic terrorism, which has killed thousands of people in Pakistan.
“We cannot ensure prosperity until we eliminate the issue of terrorism,” he said.
Partial official results confirm PML-N on 123 seats, with the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party on 31 and PTI on 26. Another 18 of the 272 directly elected seats in the national assembly are still to be declared.
Khan’s party won the most seats in the Taleban-hit northwest, where he has vowed to put together a provincial coalition government and turn it into a “role model” for the rest of the country.
But he alleged yesterday that vote rigging had taken place in 25 constituencies and said he would ask the election commission to order recounting in at least four.
In Parachinar, a new offensive by the Pakistani military against militants in a northwestern tribal area has displaced thousands of people in the past week, an official said yesterday.
For years, Pakistan has been battling militant groups such as the Taleban in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Civilians are often caught in the middle of the fighting, and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced over the years of conflict.
About a week ago, the military launched a new push in Kurram, one of seven Pakistani tribal regions near the Afghan border, the official and displaced people said.
Details of the fighting have not been revealed so far but on Wednesday, Mujahid Hussain, chief of disaster management efforts in the Kurram tribal area said an estimated 35,000 and 49,000 have left their villages in the area.
The Pakistani military has launched numerous operations in the past to displace militants based in Kurram and other areas who often travel back and forth into Afghanistan.
Most of those who fled are staying with relatives but Hussain says tents would be set up in a refugee camp near the city of Parachinar for those who have nowhere to go.
A local resident who fled said the fighting started on May 8 in the central part of the Kurram region, forcing people to flee their homes.
“We don’t know from which side these mortars and shells are coming from, but we were the ultimate victims and we had no option but to leave our homes in haste,” said Malik Hayat Khan, speaking at a press conference Tuesday in Parachinar.
Another person who fled, Sadeen Khan, said many families had to spend all their money on hiring a vehicle to help them flee the area. “Whatever cash we had we spent on transportation to save our children,” he said.
Often when families are displaced from conflicts in the tribal areas, they stay with family members or rent homes. But if the conflict drags on and they’re not able to return home, they run out of money and are sometimes forced to move into camps run by the government or aid groups.