Imran sticks to his guns on NA-122

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan has threatened the PML-N government that his party will once again take to the street if justice is not delivered in the by-election petition of NA-122 candidate Abdul Aleem Khan.

“Just as terrorists have beaten a retreat because the security forces went after them, those doing election rigging will be tackled if identified and held accountable. And it should be done in the interest of free and fair elections in the days to come,” he told a press conference at the party’s Garden Town office on Wednesday.

He said all political parties wanting free and fair elections in 2018 would be welcome to join hands with the PTI in its protests. He dispelled the impression that the protest call would be an attempt to influence the Supreme Court, where the PTI would be approaching.

Shocked over the Election Tribunal’s decision that the NA-122 by-election petition is not maintainable, Mr Khan directly addressed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying: “Nothing will happen if Nadra explains that how 21,000 votes were taken out of the constituency and on the other hand 26,000 new votes were registered after the 2013 general elections”.

As for the prime minister’s statement that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was delayed owing to the PTI’s 126-day sit-in in Islamabad, Mr Khan said PM Nawaz Sharif was himself responsible because he did not accept the PTI’s demand of opening four constituencies for vote audit. He said the Election Commission had record of transfer of only 812 votes.

Mr Khan said Jahangir Khan Tareen spent more than Rs22 million to expose rigging in NA-154 constituency and it could not be properly exposed for want of focused investigation.

The PTI chairman said the PML-N government took loans of over Rs5,000 billion within 30 months, which surpassed total loan taken by Pakistan till 2006. He said the FBR report for 2015 showed Rs270 billion smuggling in Pakistan, while Pakistanis purchased properties in Dubai worth Rs650 billion during the last three years.

Answering a question about the closure of schools, Mr Khan said no government could take chance on children’s protection. He said the police needed to be imparted quality training to combat the terrorists and added that the war against terrorism had decreased terrorism activities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 87pc.

He said Gen Raheel Sharif had earned more respect among the masses by announcing that he would not seek or accept extension in his service.

INTRA-PARTY POLLS: The PTI chairman said the intra-party elections would be held on a direct voting basis and warned that no candidate would be allowed to speak against any other party candidate. He said the elections would be held from tehsil level to the top slots in the party.

He said the decision about elections or appointments in union councils would be taken later.

He lauded party’s Chief Election Commissioner Tasneem Noorani for rectifying mistakes that had led former election commissioner retired Justice Wajihuddin to reject the first intra-party elections. He said the election commissioner had also made party membership easy by introducing ‘one SMS system’. He said the party would also launch massive membership campaign.

CEC Tasneem Noorani, Information Secretary Naeemul Haq and former attorney general Irfan Qadir, who announced joining the party, were present.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2016

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