Brimming with scintillating confidence, former prime minister Imran Khan is ready to take on the citadel, come what may. Not mincing words against an “unneutral establishment” and an unrelenting coterie of political rivals, the charismatic cricket star is still poised to win the race. In an exclusive interview with Daily Times, Mr Khan spilt the beans over how the movers and shakers did their utmost best to tighten the screws of his main brethren-in-power, Chaudhrys of Gujarat, as well as put pressure on the vulnerable members of the Punjab Assembly ahead of the historic vote of no-confidence. “A very clear message was given to our members: choose Imran or your future in the politics of Pakistan.”But while the populist might have defeated the opposing winds, he still needs to be wary of daggers falling from all directions. Even after securing an unbelievable win in the heartland as he kicked the legs out from under the coalition umbrella, Mr Khan is nowhere close to the promised bounty. The assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa might have closed their doors but there appears no talk of the next round of polls. Hardened by his years spent on the fields, he, however, has not lost heart. “By refusing to announce the date for the next elections in the dissolution notification, Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman has violated the constitution.” He expressed his resolve to take him before the honourable courts, hoping that when the executive has failed to oil the wheels of the state machinery, the higher judiciary would come to his party’s relief. With reference to the names presented by the opposition for the caretaker chief minister, Mr Khan called Ahad Cheema and Mohsin Naqwi “frontmen” of Asif Ali Zardari and Sharif brothers. “How can they expect me to approve of Naqwi despite my knowledge about his involvement in the entire plot?”He then talked about the corruption sagas of Mr Cheema and claimed that the ruling PML(N) had stepped out from behind the facade.”Drawing a red line on me is politically, uneducated, bordering on stupidity,” he thundered in relation to the disqualification threat. The continuation of the democratic process was hailed not just an individual’s demand but the only foolproof plan to steer a sinking ship, he continued. “The last few months have repeatedly proved what I and the then finance minister Shaukat Tareen had warned to General Bajwa. Pakistan was in no shape to stomach another disruption.” Where is the brilliance of the so-called financial czar and the administrative genius Shahbaz Sharif, which were magically supposed to rein in inflation, he wondered. Pointing to the back-breaking conditions of the IMF, he asserted that the government only seemed interested in kicking the can further down the dusty road. Suffering from a debilitating dilemma, the PML(N) did not know whether to accept the new set of demands (said to turbocharge the skyrocketing inflation to an unbelievable 35 per cent) or jump off the default cliff. “Only a politically elected government holds the mandate to unroll a coherent roadmap for the future,” he noted.Railing against the history-changing ouster movement, the PTI chairman emphasised how those who had come to power through forces of auction could not find the courage to do anything remarkable. Mr Khan then proceeded to make a startling claim about the conspiracy itself. “What I had believed to be an American scheme turned out to be a home-grown nefarious agenda, which had travelled across seas and was perfected in the US to be implemented in Islamabad.”Why was a controversial figure like Hussain Haqqani tasked to make a case against my government in Washington, he inquired. Here, he paused, maintained his composure and admitted how the former chief of Pakistan’s armed forces was to be blamed for all that had gone wrong with his tenure and the country in the last year. “From meddling in official proceedings in a key money laundering case involving ‘Maqsood Chaprasi’ to ensuring relief to Asif Ali Zardari, he did everything to control NAB and weaken the accountability process in the mean time.”Mr Khan again underscored how the past could not be repeated and only a round of free and fair elections held the key to Pakistan’s survival. “Any delay and I fear a Sri Lanka-like unrest unfolding here.” With the economy swerving towards the edge of the precipice, he believed that anyone with even a modicum of intelligence could well gauge how the slightest of spark would start an uncontrollable fire. “I would repeat exactly what I had said last April. Let the people decide who they wish to be their representative.”Mr Khan is, nevertheless, ready to play out the entire innings politically. “Street protests are not on the cards anymore.” Why go through the drill again when his rivals are doing their job for him? “Initiated by the reservations of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the murmurs about cracks in the rosy PML(N) picture cannot be denied any longer,” he quipped. With the likes of Miftah Ismail and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi leaving hints of a new party here, there and everywhere, the ex-PM couldn’t help but wonder what the party stalwart would be going through as they grope in the dark. A befitting turn after all, “because Nawaz Sharif was never a politician to begin with.” He called the party supremo a product of the Jillani administration.