- Imran Khan demands resignation of Chief Election Commissioner
ISLAMABAD: A day after getting a landslide victory in Punjab by-polls, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Monday not only accused the coalition government of using every tactic to rig the polls but also demanded resignation from the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
In a televised address after chairing the meeting of party’s core committee, the former prime minister also reiterated his demand of holding fresh elections in the country, saying there is only one way to rid the country of political instability which is free and fair elections.
“When they were removing me, I had announced general elections but courts overturned my decision. I still believe it was the right call,” he added.
He said that “the “imported regime” misused all the state machinery to rig the by-polls despite the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s order”.
“The way the government managed Punjab by-polls, and used every tactic to make sure that we [the PTI] lose the polls is not acceptable. If the next elections take place in such a manner, political instability will exacerbate, [and] not decrease,” he maintained.
Khan recalled that the apex court – in its July 1 order – had ordered the government not to use its machinery for interference, but the PML-N violated the order.
“They [the PML-N] interfered in every way…they registered FIRs, used police to harass our people, but at the same time, I salute the police officials who did not pay heed to the government’s pressure,” he added.
He said that he knows the name of each and every police officer who was involved in harassing PTI workers and behaved like the workers of the PML-N.
Demanding resignation of CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja, he alleged that the CEC tried his best to turn the polls in favour of the PML-N.
“I am disappointed from the chief election commissioner. How could he let all this happen? He is not competent to run the ECP and is biased towards a political party. He should immediately step down,” he added. He said that his party did not trust the CEC, citing example of Senate elections in 2021 in which Khan said evidence of bribery was seen.
“In Sindh local government elections, 15 percent of PPP candidates won unopposed, yet nobody investigated it. During Daska polls, the returning officer opened all the votes against PTI. He made us lose that election,” he added.
The former prime minister said that despite several cases of rigging during polls being brought before the CEC, he never punished anyone, which encouraged malpractices as no one feared accountability.
“But, despite all these tactics, and use of state machinery we won the polls as people came out to cast their votes like never before,” he added.
He also said that due to the CEC’s incompetence, four million people were shown dead on voter lists, adding that if it had happened in any civilised country, he would have been dismissed.
Khan said that the PTI had eight cases, which the ECP, headed by Raja refused to hear. He said that the PTI then went to the courts to seek justice, where it was served the same.
He said that despite several cases of rigging during polls being brought before the CEC, he never found anyone guilty — and, as a result, malpractice continued as no one had feared accountability.
Referring to the PPP’s landslide victory in the first phase of the local body elections, Khan said that due to the CEC’s favouritism, the party’s victory was possible.
At the beginning of the speech, Khan – while celebrating his party’s victory – termed the situation a happy moment, and said he believes that when a nation developed awareness and starts understanding the vision of the country then it is a moment to thank Allah.
“I want to thank the youth and women of Punjab, especially those who came out to cast the vote,” Khan said, while acknowledging the contributions of the PTI supporters, workers, and leaders.
Commenting on his election campaign, Khan said that throughout his race, he focused on the fundamental principle that the meaning of Pakistan was La Ilaha Illallah (There is no god but Allah) because this was a philosophy and once people start understanding this, they will also grasp the vision of Pakistan and become a great nation.
“A group of people become a nation when they have a vision,” he reiterated, saying that he was happy because people started questioning [the rulers] and were determined that they would not accept slavery after an “imported government” was imposed on all of us through a “foreign conspiracy”.
The cricketer-turned-politician said that when the PTI was in power an “artificial political crisis was created”.
“If you look at the Economic Survey for the fiscal year 2021-22 you would see that after 17 years, Pakistan witnessed record growth in the last two years of the PTI government,” he highlighted, adding that all indicators were showing an uptrend, particularly large-scale manufacturing which provides employment opportunities and increases tax collection, etc.
He went on to say that during the five-year government of the PML-N, Pakistan did not see a rise in exports.
“They left huge fiscal deficits during both their terms. They came to power only to get cases against them quashed. They got bills passed from the assembly,” he said referring to the NAB amendment bills.
“But God willing, I will challenge all this in the Supreme Court tomorrow (Tuesday),” he added.
Shedding light on the current economic situation in the country, he said that it was an outcome of the political crisis.
“Our reserves have shrunk by half since the PML-N came to power. Despite the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in sight, our rupee is declining,” he said, taunting that now they [the coalition government] blame international crisis for their “tough decisions”.
He highlighted that amid the crises, the only way out was free and fair elections.
In the coming days, Khan said that if the relevant quarters do not understand that political instability had a drastic impact on the economy, then he feared that things will go out of hand.
“Economy is linked to political stability […] and the only way forward is transparent elections,” the PTI chairman said.
He said that he will never forget May 25 – the day his party marched to Islamabad — as the government tortured the PTI workers and supporters.
“They did not feel ashamed while tear gassing our supporters despite the presence of families there […] they have no empathy for people,” he said.
APP adds: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday rejected the allegations levelled by former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan against the commission as baseless.
An ECP spokesman, in a statement, said there was absolutely no truth in the accusations of Imran Khan. The commission would continue working in accordance with the relevant laws and the Constitution, he added.
The PTI chairman said that despite all efforts of the government, the public took to the streets and, resultantly, Pakistan was “finally heading towards becoming a nation”.
“If someone thinks that the nation’s decisions can be made behind closed doors, then they’re wrong.”
Khan said that if anyone plans of stealing people’s mandate, their plans will fail, adding that the only way forward for the country was early elections.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued here, the CEC rejected all the allegations leveled against him by PTI chief.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022