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EDITORIAL: Since his ouster from power former prime minister Imran Khan has played smart politics rallying swathes of people to his side with his ‘imported government’ narrative and keeping them engaged. Even his detractors acknowledge that he can win any electoral race hands down, already proved in by-elections. But right from the outset his strategic planning failed to take into account the prevailing environment and focus on results.

Under him the PTI made the first big mistake when it tendered resignations en masse from the National Assembly in the vain hope that by vacating 65 percent of the assembly seats it could force the government to call fresh elections. It made the second wrong calculus in deciding to dissolve the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

For several months, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf kept sitting on the resignations, insisting that each member appear before him to certify he/she was doing that without any pressure. But when of late the PTI, realising it needed to reclaim the Leader of the Opposition position — currently occupied by one of its renegades — to participate in the consultative process for the selection of caretaker prime minister, decided to go back to the assembly, the Speaker’s office accepted, in two instalments 113 resignations without verifying with the MNAs concerned. And Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), whom the PTI has been accusing of partisanship, promptly issued its notifications to that effect.

Meanwhile in Punjab, the party has been staging protest demonstrations against the selection — by the ECP — of caretaker chief minister for his suspected partisan credentials, and is preparing to approach the Supreme Court over the issue. And to add to its travails the caretaker governments in the two provinces appear to be in no mood to hold elections within 90 days as per constitutional requirement. Leaders of the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) coalition ruling at the Centre have also been indicating their intention to extend their government’s tenure by another year. There is no such provision in the Constitution, except in the event of an emergency.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the interests of power elite, laws and democratic values in this country can easily be thrown out the window. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday outside Imran Khan’s Lahore residence, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry railed against the Punjab and KP governors for not announcing election date, accusing them of subverting the Constitution and exposing themselves to trial under its Article 6.

Also, in a veiled threat aimed at ECP Chairman and the PDM leaders, he said, his party owed it to the people that everyone and anyone trying to influence (the democratic process), looting national wealth and overstepping their mandate should be punished under Article 6 when the PTI returned to power. The next morning he was arrested for “inciting violence against a constitutional institution.” The criticism of ECP was premature but the action against the PTI leader is beyond unfair and wrong.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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