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Monday June 24, 2024

More pressure on govt: Imran to run for 33 seats in NA by-polls

By Our Correspondent
January 30, 2023
An undated image of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. — Instagram/@imrankhan.pti
An undated image of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. — Instagram/@imrankhan.pti

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan will contest for all 33 seats in the upcoming National Assembly by-elections set to take place on March 16, the party has announced — becoming the first person in the country’s history to run for a sizeable number of seats.

In a press conference on Sunday after the party’s core committee in Lahore, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, “Imran Khan will be PTI’s candidate for all constituencies that [are up for grabs] and our [ex-] MNAs, who were earlier elected for those seats will be covering candidates.”

The move will likely pile up pressure on the ruling coalition as if the PTI chief successfully wins a majority of the seats, it might dent the government’s popularity and give the Khan-led party an edge in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections — expected to take place in the next three months.

The embattled government is under severe criticism from the masses as inflation is at a record high and there seems no respite in sight, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme also at a stall.

The NA seats had fallen vacant earlier this month when NA Speaker Raja Parvez Ashraf accepted the resignations of PTI lawmakers and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid.

The PTI resigned en masse in April last year after the ouster of Khan as the prime minister, but only 11 resignations were accepted in July. Later, as the party tried to stage a comeback to the house, the speaker began accepting their resignations — and in a couple of days, he accepted 113 more, including the 33.

In October last year, the former prime minister also set a record when he won six NA seats for the PTI in a by-election that was seen as a direct contest between the former ruling party and the current ruling coalition of the PDM parties, which also grabbed two seats.

“PTI will remain on the political ground and seek the help of the masses. When the people got a chance in July last year, despite our opponents being in government, they ensured our mandate and [made] Imran Khan victorious,” Qureshi said.

“The nation will give a clear message on March 16: the nation completely trusts in the leadership of Imran Khan and it stands with the PTI. The people will also voice their reservations against the group that’s been imposed on us,” he added.

Voicing concerns over the “delay” in Punjab and KP elections, the PTI vice chairman said that the governors of both provinces would be defying the Constitution if they do not issue a date for the polls.

“The Constitution does not permit for an hour’s delay and we won’t stand it. The elections should be ensured within 90 days in line with the Constitution,” he said.

The former foreign minister said that the ruling coalition in the centre is “afraid” of holding elections in both provinces. “Political engineering is being done through the National Assembly by-elections.”

Majority of experts have said that there is no space in the Constitution that allows the government to delay the elections, except for emergency situations, however former Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary Kanwar Dilshad has another opinion.

Dilshad has said the authority to provide the ECP with a date for the elections lay with the governor — and both the top officials in Punjab and KP were yet to do it. He also maintained that if the governors didn’t provide a date, it would not be a violation of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the PTI, while expressing concern at the Federal Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar’s statement on continuation of interim government, said that after dissolution of a legislature elections have to be held within 90 days.

A day earlier the law minister has stated that in extraordinary circumstances, the caretaker government can stay beyond mandated period.

The PTI Core Committee met here under the chair of former prime minister Imran Khan and passed a number of resolutions

One of the resolutions reads: “The PTI leadership (Core Committee & Parliamentary party) today [Sunday] called the judiciary’s and nation’s attention to the irrevocable fact that the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan states categorically that after dissolution of a legislature elections have to be held within 90 days, not a day later.

“Absolutely no reason can be used to delay election by even an hour. PTI voluntarily dissolved its two provincial assemblies where it was in government strictly according to Constitution. Any delay for any reason whatsoever will be subversion of the Constitution and liable to be subject to Article 6 of the Constitution.”

In another resolution, the PTI leadership drew the attention of the President of Pakistan and the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces to the statement of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor that “election date for the KP Assembly will be given by the agencies and establishment”.

The PTI called on the president to take notice of “this growing interference by intelligence agencies and other sections of establishment in political sphere”.

The resolution further reads: “In addition, He [president] must take note of, FIRs, abductions, custodial torture and threatening phone calls against PTI workers and leaders, being carried out at the behest of these black sheep in state organisations.

“This is bringing infamy on our military which will lead to strengthening our external enemies and fifth columnists in Pakistan.”

The PTI urged the president to not just take notice of these excesses, constitutional violations and total destruction of all fundamental human rights, but to seek an explanation forthwith against “the black sheep” identified repeatedly by the party leadership and independent media.

In another resolution the party condemned, what it called, the abduction and subsequent sham FIR on sedition charges against Fawad Chaudhry leading to his physical remand and being treated like a terrorist by the police.

“This is clear violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and complete breakdown of any semblance of law and justice. It is unprecedented to give physical remand thrice in same FIR. PTI calls on CJP to take suo motu of this grave injustice.” The Core Committee also expressed concern over handling of country’s economy by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)’s government.

“The economy was performing very well as indicated in the Economic Survey of May 2022. Ever since the PDM government was installed, through their gross mismanagement of the economy, they have subjected the people of Pakistan to the worst inflation in 50 years, mass unemployment and have brought the country very close to a default, thereby raising concerns to our national security.”