Next general elections might be rigged in PML-N’s favour: Imran

Former premier also hints at possibility of snap polls; slams ‘imported govt’ for inflationSays Pakistan faces food insecurity threat if farmers’ concerns not addressed

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday accused the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of working in cahoots to rig the next general elections.

“The ECP takes orders from Hamza Shehbaz and Maryam Nawaz… they are planning to rig the next elections,” he said while addressing a farmers’ convention in Islamabad.

The PTI chief has time and again accused the ECP and its chief of being the henchman of the PML-N and sought Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja’s resignation to ensure transparency in the polls.

He also hinted at the possibility of snap polls, saying that he was expecting that the elections would be held soon.

Speaking about the prevailing economic crisis, the former prime minister reiterated his allegations that the incumbent rulers were installed into power through a US-backed regime change conspiracy, which he said could not dare to buy oil from Russia at discounted rates.

“Despite being the ally of the US, India is purchasing oil, weapons from Russia, but slaves (incumbent government) are not allowed to buy oil.”

He also lashed out at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, saying that he had become the in charge of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and appointed his loyalist to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to “close down” corruption cases against himself.

“They did not come [in power] for the people of Pakistan… they only came to get relief in corruption cases. We don’t expect anything [good] from this imported government,” he added.

Speaking about the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the former premier said the war had sparked fears of famine in the country due to a shortage of wheat.

“Pakistan is facing a major challenge of food security. The Russia-Ukraine war has disrupted the wheat supply and caused an increase in its price. The country can never proposer until attention is paid to the agriculture sector,” he said, adding that the concerns of farmers and the agriculture sector needed to be addressed.

He said that food security was linked to the country’s security itself. He also said that the issue was not limited to Pakistan but a matter of global concern.

However, he said, Pakistan was “fortunate” since it had natural resources, conditions and opportunities to become a country that could substantially increase its wealth on the basis of agriculture alone.

Highlighting the problems faced by farmers, he said the cost of their inputs was increasing due to recent fuel and power price hikes.

The PTI chairman talked about his government’s performance in the agriculture sector and said its main focus was on helping farmers, recalling that it was part of the PTI’s manifesto.

Elaborating on his government’s measures, such as subsidies to support farmers, Imran talked about the high yields of different crops during his tenure.

Turning his aim at the current government, he said its economic performance so far had increased inflation.

The PTI chairman called on the people to struggle against the government and participate in a movement for “real freedom”, adding that Pakistan couldn’t move forward while the incumbent government remained in power.