On the eve of local government elections in Punjab and Sindh, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan lambasted the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for allegedly using violence to intimidate his party, likening its actions to that of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Imran also joined an opposition-led chorus of appeals for the army’s deployment in sensitive polling stations – a plea that elicited a direct response from the Inter Services Public Relations, the military’s media wing. On Thursday, the military said in a statement circulated by ISPR that “troops would “assist law enforcement agencies when and where required”.
The PTI chief also fired broadsides at the Punjab police, warning them over using excessive force against his party workers. Calling for depoliticising police in Punjab and Sindh, he alleged that SHOs were getting direct orders from the PML-N.
In the wake of allegations in a trial court that Punjab Law Minster Rana Sanaullah had allegedly ordered a hit on another PML-N leader, Imran likened the ruling party’s behaviour to that of the Muttahida Qaumi Movment (MQM).
“What justice can one expect in a country where people like Rana Sanaullah are provincial law ministers?” he asked.
Speaking at a news conference at the Chairman Secretariat in Lahore on Thursday, the PTI chief flayed the Punjab government for resorting to violence in order to get competing political parties to boycott the upcoming LG polls.
“Killing youngsters and political workers is what they [PML-N] have resorted to. Is this your [PML-N] politics?” Imran said as he referred to the incident at Yakki Gate in Lahore this week which led to the deaths of two PTI workers.
Pointing to violence against his party activists during the protests in Islamabad last year and the Model Town incident before that, Imran said perpetrators of those crimes were fully aware that they would not be held to account. “They are not worried because they know they will be let off the hook.”
A day after opposition parties had unanimously demanded deployment of armed forces at sensitive polling stations for the LG elections, Imran too reiterated the call.
Reservations on voter lists
Commenting on the alleged transfer of votes, Imran claimed that they had already started receiving complaints from every union council ahead of the first phase of polls scheduled for October 31.
“The PML-N can never win elections transparently,” the PTI chief alleged, adding that his party was still in the process of completing an inquiry into claims that voter lists for NA-122 had been tampered with.
“They [PML-N] tactfully committed electoral fraud during the by-polls,” Imran said, adding “rest assured, we are also tactfully investigating their fraudulent activities.”
PTI Punjab organiser Chaudhry Sarwar, who has already expressed reservations to the ECP regarding voters’ lists provided to candidates being different to the lists for polling scheme, said that they had identified the electoral fraud committed by PML-N during the recent by-polls.
Imran also commented on the Supreme Court’s order mandating re-polls in NA-154, noting he could not wait to begin campaigning in the constituency.
No request for outside help
Refuting reports that Kyhber-Pakhtunkhwa had sought help from international aid agencies to deal with the crisis in the aftermath of Monday’s earthquake, Imran said that the provincial government was on standby to address all emergencies.
“Whenever we face a natural disaster, the country should stand united,” he said. The PTI chief further said that he had visited several earthquake-hit areas.
Imran also took the opportunity to score some points over the PML-N as he referred to the recent surveys by SDPI and PILDAT.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2015.