PTI Chairman Imran Khan Monday demanded Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja's immediate resignation following his party's win in the Punjab by-elections on July 17.
Speaking to the public in a televised speech, the former prime minister said that his actions were backed by “malintent” and due to his “incompetence”, four million people were shown dead on voters' lists.
“But apart from that, he wholeheartedly participated in the polling process to ensure that PML-N wins,” the PTI chairman said.
Khan added that the PTI had “lawful” eight cases, which the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), headed by Raja, rejected to hear. He said that the party then went to the courts to seek justice, where it was served the same.
“We do not trust this election commissioner,” he maintained.
Khan said that despite several cases of rigging during polls being brought before the CEC, he never found anyone guilty — and, as a result, malpractice continued as no one had feared accountability.
Referring to the PPP’s landslide victory in the first phase of the local body elections, Khan said that due to CEC’s favouritism, the party’s victory was possible.
“He (Raja) is taking money from two sources — the Sindh government and the election commission. His case is pending in the Supreme Court,” Khan said.
“Even the election commission tried all tactics to ensure we lose. But we won despite that as people came out to cast their votes like never before.”
The PTI chairman said that transparent elections are not possible under the current election commissioner.
Khan — while celebrating his party's victory — termed the situation a "happy moment", and said he believes that when a nation developed awareness and starts understanding the vision of the country "then it is a moment to thank Allah."
According to the preliminary final count from Sunday's polls, the PTI won 15 seats, while the PML-N managed to clinch victory in only four, and an independent candidate grabbed one.
“I want to thank the youth and women of Punjab, especially those who came out to cast the vote,” Khan said while acknowledging the contributions of PTI supporters, workers, and leaders.
Commenting on his electioneering campaign, Khan said that throughout his race, he focused on the fundamental principle that the meaning of Pakistan was "La Ilaha Illallah (There is no god but Allah)" because this was a philosophy and once people start understanding this, they will also grasp the vision of Pakistan and become a “great nation.”
“A group of people become a nation when they have a vision,” he reiterated, saying that he was happy because people started questioning [the rulers] and were determined that they would not accept slavery after an “imported government” was imposed on all of us through a “foreign conspiracy”.
“I am happy because, for the first time, I am seeing awareness among people and now — by the grace of Allah — we are heading toward becoming a nation which will resolve all issues, including debt and lack of resources, among others,” Khan said while highlighting that the elite in the country had invested abroad and owned properties in foreign countries because they have no trust on Pakistan.
Recalling the sacrifices rendered by ancestors in the independence of the country, the PTI chairman said that everybody should be proud of the people of Punjab, especially women, who came out to cast their votes, “this is Naya Pakistan.”
'Govt used tactics to ensure PTI loses'
Despite a landslide victory against PML-N in the by-election for 20 constituencies of Punjab, Khan accused the coalition government of using "every tactic to ensure that we (PTI) lose the polls."
"All of the government’s [machinery] was used against us despite the Supreme Court’s order," said the ex-premier.
Casting aspersions on the way the government managed the Punjab by-polls, Khan said that if the next elections take place “in such a manner, then political instability will exacerbate, not decrease”.
The PTI chairman noted that the apex court — in its July 1 order — had ordered the government to not use its machinery for “interference”, but the PML-N “violated” the order.
“They interfered in every way; they registered FIRs, used police to harass our people, but at the same time, I salute the police officials who did not pay heed to the government’s pressure,” he said.
Khan added that he “remembers” the name of each and every police officer who was involved in harassing PTI workers “and behaving like the workers of PML-N”.
The cricketer-turned-politician said that when PTI was in power an “artificial political crisis was created”.
“If you look at the Economic Survey for the fiscal year 2021-22 you would see that after 17 years, Pakistan witnessed record growth in the last two years of the PTI government,” he highlighted, adding that all indicators were showing an uptrend, particularly large-scale manufacturing which provides employment opportunities and increases tax collection, etc.
He went on to say that during the five-year government of PML-N, Pakistan did not see a rise in exports.
“They left huge fiscal deficits during both their terms. They came to power only to get cases against them quashed. They got bills passed from the assembly," he said referring to the NAB amendment bills.
“But god willing, I will challenge all this in the Supreme Court tomorrow (Tuesday),” the PTI leader vowed.
Shedding light on the current economic situation in the country, he said that it was an outcome of the political crisis.
“Our reserves have shrunk by half since PML-N came to power. Despite the agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) in sight, our rupee is declining,” he said, taunting that now they [coalition government] blame international crisis for tough decisions.
He highlighted that amid the crises, the only way out was free and fair elections.
In the coming days, Khan said that if the relevant quarters do not understand that political instability had a drastic impact on the economy, then he feared that things will go out of hand.
“Economy is linked to political stability [...] and the only way forward is transparent elections,” the PTI chairman said.
The PTI chairman said that during his political career, which spans more than two decades, he has never seen such “awareness” among the Pakistani nation as it was witnessed during the by-elections.
Khan said that he will never forget May 25 — the day his party marched to Islamabad — as the government “tortured” PTI workers and supporters.
“They did not feel ashamed while tear gassing our supporters despite the presence of families there [...] they have no empathy for people,” he said.
The PTI chairman said that despite all efforts of the government, the public took to the streets and, resultantly, Pakistan was “finally heading towards becoming a nation”.
“If someone thinks that the nation’s decisions can be made behind closed doors, then they're wrong.”
Khan said that if anyone plans of stealing people's mandate, their plans will fail, adding that the only way forward for the country was early elections.
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