Imran gives govt ‘few more days’ to call elections or else

PTI chief says audio leaks proved that ECP was in cahoots with PML-N

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday stopped short of giving a final date for his planned march toward Islamabad, saying that he was giving some more time to the government, but warned that he would not delay it beyond October.

The PTI leader made the remarks during a press conference in Islamabad a day after his party stunned its rivals and won a majority of seats in by-polls. “I am giving them (government) time just for the sake of the country,” he said. “I repeat that they still have time to announce elections, and if they don’t, I will begin my march, and my preparations are almost complete.”

Imran accused his political rival and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif of attempting to delay elections, saying “he (Sharif) is afraid to go to polls because of the PTI’s constantly growing popularity”. He said Nawaz was waiting for the PTI’s wave of support to diminish before elections could be held. He ruled out the possibility of a dialogue with the government, saying “this is very hard to do as you can talk to Baloch and Sindhi nationalists, but not with criminals”.

Reiterating his demand for fair polls, Imran said it was the only way for the country to attain political and economic stability. He said a high-profile appointment such as that of the army chief should not be made by “criminals like Nawaz or Zardari”. “The army chief should be appointed on merit,” he said.

Earlier in the press conference, Imran said his party had a detailed discussion about the “custodial torture” inflicted on PTI leaders, adding that Senator Azam Swati was stripped naked in custody and tortured – the same treatment that was allegedly given to Shahbaz Gill. “I felt so ashamed that we humiliate our people this way.” The PTI chief questioned the logic behind torturing a “75-year-old senator” over a “mere tweet”. “He (Swati) was beaten in front of his grandkids and then was taken to police station where law enforcers handed his custody to agencies, who then subjected him to more torture,” he said.

Imran said the incident brought disgrace to Pakistan, and created an impression as if “the army is out of control and could do anything.”

Detailing his party’s next line of action, the PTI chief said, “We have decided that we will call special sessions of KP and Punjab assemblies on this issue.” He added that PTI senators would file a petition with the Supreme Court, while the party would approach international organisations and the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva to register its concern regarding the alleged torture of its leaders.

Without naming anyone, the former premier said that “a man posted in Islamabad” was behind the action being taken against his party’s leaders. The PTI chief said the same man was violating the constitution, defaming the country and sowing the seeds of hatred among the public for institutions. He accused the unidentified individual of trampling the law and the constitution in an attempt to please the army chief. Imran said that through the public’s unwavering support, his party was able to defeat their combined candidates.

He also demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold a reelection in Karachi’s NA-237 constituency, claiming that the PPP clinched the seat in the by-poll on Sunday through “rigging”. He also demanded re-election in Daska. “I have been saying this for the last three years that they (the government) were actually trying to get away with an amnesty for their wrong deeds under the NRO,” he said, adding that Gen Musharraf dealt a blow to the country by offering them NROs.

Imran said his party had “all the evidence” that the PPP openly indulged in rigging. “I also want to highlight that the Sindh election commissioner is on the provincial government’s payroll and we have already approached the judicial council against him,” he told journalists.


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