Tuesday March 05, 2024

PTI demands 'political prisoners' release, mandate acceptance after COAS 'healing touch' statement

"[PTI] mandate has to be respected," Barrister Gohar Khan says

By Web Desk
February 11, 2024
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party´s chairman Gohar Khan arrives to attend a press conference in Islamabad on December 29, 2023. — AFP
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party´s chairman Gohar Khan arrives to attend a press conference in Islamabad on December 29, 2023. — AFP

Barrister Gohar Khan, the top leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Sunday called for the release of his party's "political prisoners", including founder Imran Khan, in response to army chief General Asim Munir's statement stressing the need for a "healing touch" following the February 8 general elections.

In his remarks, the military's head congratulated the nation on the successful conduct of the election. He also emphasised the need for stable leadership as well as a unifying approach towards transcending Pakistan's past tumultuous politics.

Gen Munir had said that Pakistan’s diverse polity and pluralism would be well-represented by a unified government of all democratic forces imbibed with national purpose.

According to the military's media wing, the COAS had said the nation needs stable hands and a healing touch to move on from the politics of anarchy and polarisation, which does not suit a progressive country of 250 million people. “Elections are not a zero-sum competition of winning and losing but an exercise to determine the mandate of the people.”

Responding to Gen Munir's statement, Barrister Gohar said "healing touch" means there should be no political prisoners in the country.

This comment by the politician, who also represents Khan in his legal battles, came during an interview with Arab News, setting the tone for the party's future moves as its candidates lead in the polls.

"[PTI] mandate has to be respected. Short of it there can be no healing touch.”

Gohar, while responding to the COAS's "unified government" stance, added that it does not necessarily mean a coalition government.

"United government means that every party should be united in one thing, which is that you have to respect and regard people’s mandate first,” he said.

The politician, who won the general elections from the NA-10 constituency, added: "The people have spoken [through the vote] and for the first time they have spoken in a very tough situation [amid a crackdown against PTI]."

In the interview, the PTI chairman said that 95 out of the 102 total independent candidates were backed by the party and remained its loyalists. The PTI will also contest the results in "at least 50 seats" where it considers the results have been manipulated.

The lawyer-cum-politician maintained his party is "near victory in Punjab" and has "two-thirds majority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa".

"We are actually close to the final figure in the Centre. We would be hopefully forming the government in the Center, as well as Punjab and the KP," he added.

Gohar, like several other politicians, also complained about the delay in the release of results by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), even two days after the end of the polling process.

"We are giving time to the Election Commission [of Pakistan] to announce all the results by 12 [am] tonight [Sunday],” he warned.

"If they do not, then we are going to hold a peaceful protest in front of the RO [Returning Officer] offices in all those areas where elections [results] have not been announced or elections [results] have been withheld," Gohar added,

Stating that the nation has decided in favour of the PTI, the politician also hinted at the possible release of the party's founder in the coming days.

"I think we will go to the high court, these convictions [against Khan] would be set aside and he will be out soon," said Gohar.