Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Monday said that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa should be given extension until a new government is elected. “How can a fugitive with just 85 seats appoint a new army chief,” Imran Khan asked in an interview to a private TV channel. “Nawaz and Zardari are not qualified to appoint COAS because they are globally recognised corrupt leaders,” he said. “My opponents can appoint a new army chief if they win elections and I will have no problem then,” he added. “The current government came into power through a plot, but if the people in the coalition government some to rule by getting a mandate through the vote, then they [the coalition government] can go for the selection of the COAS.” Imran Khan said that he was willing to hold a dialogue with the incumbent government if it was ready to hold fresh elections. Responding to a question regarding holding talks with the government, Imran said: “The country is facing extraordinary circumstances […] in this time we need to think about what decisions to take.” He said that his life and death were in Pakistan, hence, his interest was in the country’s improvement. “I’m always ready to talk if they want to talk about free and fair elections.” Imran also said that he would have apologised to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) if he was allowed to speak. “I got to know they wanted me to go ahead with, I could have said what they wanted if they had allowed me to speak.” “Shahbaz Gill was tortured badly. He [Gil] messaged me and told me that he [Shahbaz Gill] cannot bear the torture anymore. Shahbaz further told me that he [Shahbaz] was being asked to give a statement against me. When I saw the footage of Shahbaz Gill on TV, I said that legal action should be taken against the people who sent him back on remand. Is this an act of terrorism?” the PTI chairman asked. He said that he went to jail for the freedom of the judiciary and that he always respected the courts. In response to a question regarding his relationship with the United States, Imran said that he wanted a bond of “integrity” with every country, not one of enmity. He said that he was in contact with US think tanks and had a meeting with Robin Raphel – former United States ambassador to Tunisia – because “I knew her from before”. The PTI chief said that Pakistan should have “right relations” with the US. “I just say we shouldn’t be used, we don’t want enmity, but a dignified relationship. We have to decide if we want to lead a dignified life or lay down in front of them like beggars,” he added. Imran Khan said they still have the option of dissolving the provincial assemblies, and they also have a few ideas and will push the federal government staying within the constitution. He said that on one hand, a message is being conveyed that everyone should work together, while on the other hand, his party is being pushed against the wall. “I can bring the whole nation onto the streets,” he said. Khan said that a conspiracy was hatched to topple his government when the country was progressing, adding that he had warned those who had the power. “We said that no one would be able to manage the economy in case of instability at that time, adding that they had no plan to manage the economy, these people just wanted to get rid of their cases.” The former PM said that he could not imagine that Allah would give him such popularity, adding that he had not seen such enthusiasm during the PTI’s public rallies in big cities. “We are benefiting from every effort of the government, even in Musharraf’s era, I have not seen such cruelty, fascism, people are being intimidated, people are getting calls from anonymous numbers, cable operators were threatened in a telethon,” he added. “My popularity is increasing, but I am afraid of economic conditions,” Imran said. While reiterating his call for early elections, the PTI supremo said that the best option is to hold elections in the country to bring political stability, and we have the option to resign from all our governments. “I can take the nation out on the streets whenever I want, and people come to the streets on my two-hour call, the condition of the common man is bad. It is not a difficult task to evacuate the people, but I decided on peaceful protests because the country is facing a difficult time and we cannot bear more damage,” he said.