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August 7, 2018

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Traditional politics to invite people’s wrath: Imran

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday formally nominated Imran Khan and Shahbaz Sharif as their candidates respectively for the office of prime minister.

The PTI parliamentary party unanimously nominated Chairman Imran Khan as its candidate for the office of the prime minister. Over 100 PTI legislators were present on the occasion.

Others included Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Dr. Arif Alvi, Pervaiz Khattak, Tahir Sadiq, Syed Fakhar Imam, Ali Amin Gandapur and Dr. Shireen Mazari. Awami Muslim League (AML) President and MNA-elect Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad was also present.

Imran was nominated by the PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi through a resolution, which was endorsed by all. Imran was greeted through cheers and clapping.

Clad in white kurta-shalwar, Imran arrived at the venue amid tight security. He was reported to have disliked the protocol and said the country could not be run this way. PTI Information Secretary Fawad Chaudhry said Imran was against the protocol and was uneasy, as it caused discomfort to the public.

Speaking on the occasion, Imran reminded the audience that the masses had given their verdict for a change and if they could not bring it, then they might face a worse fate than the MMA and ANP.

He cautioned that Pakistan was facing an acute financial crisis and to pull it out of this situation, they would reach out to the overseas Pakistanis.

He advised the legislators-elect against deviating from their objectives and told them that they will have to take forward the manifesto for which the masses had voted for them.

Imran acknowledged the fact that it rarely happened in history that the masses defeated the two-party system and came out to vote for a third party in quest of a change.

“Wherever across Pakistan they found a face not representing change, they rejected him,” he noted.

Referring to his nomination, Imran said today he had been given the biggest responsibility and conceded that the PTI rule would be facing massive challenges.

“People don’t expect us to do traditional and status quo politics and governance. They have voted you to parliament. Now you have to work for lifting the downtrodden segments of the society,” he noted.

He said people were looking towards them with great expectations, therefore, their policies should be for the masses.

Imran resolved to present himself as an example and called on them to also follow with unity in their ranks as a team.

Imran said the first phase of his 22-year struggle had completed today and they were confronted with the weakest-ever opposition in terms of morality, though there was the JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman in their ranks who was ‘deprived of both moral and spiritual power’.

“Today, Allah Almighty has granted us a moral victory over them (opposition). You should take the public money as a sacred trust and observe austerity to save it so that it could be spent on their welfare,” he maintained.

He vowed to take decisions on merit and in the interest of the nation and said he would not expect from his team members what he would not be doing.

Imran also announced to give answers to questions in the legislature on the pattern of the United Kingdom and also make the ministers answerable.

He recalled the party's history, his own struggle and achievements, including the 1992 World Cup victory, and laid out the future plans.

"My focus has never been on becoming an MNA or prime minister. The issues over which the nation voted us into power need to be addressed on priority," he emphasised.

After the party meeting, Shah Mehmood Qureshi shared details of the proceedings and said the parliamentary party had formally named Imran Khan as its candidate for the coveted post of premier.

He said Imran was conscious of the grave economic challenges and was taking briefings thereon these days.

He said Imran had apprised the forum of the measures to be taken to overcome the economic crisis and safeguard public money and what austerity measures were to be taken and that people voted for the PTI’s ideology and manifesto, as they expected implementation of what they had been saying.

For the implementation of manifesto, he pointed out there would be an oversight to gauge the process in this connection.

He said Imran emphasised that they would attach more importance to parliament and that the decisions would be made in the interest of masses and Pakistan would be their top priority.

Asked about reports that the joint opposition would have its strategy against them in the speaker’s chamber, he said the speaker was respectable to them and would remain so and, therefore, they hoped that nothing against the parliamentary traditions would take place and the opposition could have its meeting at any other place but the speaker’s chamber should be bi-partisan.

About the unity of the opposition parties, he quipped that parties like the PPP and PML-N, which had fought the elections against each other with full venom, were today embracing just out of PTI’s fear.

“PTI’s fear has united them but this would be short-lived, as all have diverse ideologies and policies,” he maintained. He termed the opposition parties’ alliance an unnatural one.

Qureshi rejected some media reports suggesting that he was being made the NA speaker and Karachi-based PTI senior leader Imran Ismail Sindh governor.

He requested the media not to heed hearsay and the party’s Central Media Department would let them know about whatever decisions would be taken.

He also said Imran was the captain and wherever he placed them they would duly accept that. He clarified that the PTI allies had not been invited to the meeting.

Qureshi said they had gained enough numerical strength in the National Assembly to form the government and pointed out that the PTI had emerged as the largest federal party, having representation not only in the four provinces but also was in a position to form the government at the Centre.

Meanwhile, PTI Information Secretary Fawad Chaudhry claimed that the PTI’s tally of MNAs was 149, including the reserved seats of women and minorities, whereas with the inclusion of allies their number had reached 174, while in the National Assembly they were expecting to have 180-182 on their side.

On the other hand, the PML-N decided to nominate Shahbaz Sharif as the joint candidate of Alliance for Free and Fair Election (grand opposition) for the office of prime minister and Hamza Shahbaz for the Punjab chief minister.

The decision came in a meeting of the PML-N Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting held at the party’s Model Town Secretariat with Shahbaz Sharif in the chair.

The participants were briefed on developments and negotiations held at the APC and the status of numbers game regarding the government formation at the Centre and in the Punjab.

Sources present at the meeting say the CWC discussed at length the possible candidates for prime minister. It also mulled over the possibility that Shahbaz should not be the candidate in case the numbers didn’t add up in the favour of the alliance.

However, it was unanimously agreed that Shahbaz would be the candidate as he was not only the PML-N’s nominee, but also of the alliance which needed to be done to exhibit the level of utmost commitment to the objectives of the alliance.

The meeting also finalised the name of Hamza for Punjab chief minister and decided that a mass protest would be held outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) office in Islamabad on Wednesday.

All the PML-N ticket holders and the political parties affected by rigging would participate along with their voters and supporters.

Meanwhile, there was a proposal, among others, that President Mamnoon Hussain should resign before the oath-taking of Imran Khan, forcing the PTI chief to take oath from Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

However, when Mamnoon was contacted he said he was currently scheduled to perform Haj on state expenses and was also expected to get an honorary degree of doctorate from a reputable university. So, he would appreciate if he could avail himself of these privileges as president.

Meanwhile, the meeting also decided to convene a follow-up meeting of the Central Working Committee’s sub-committee on Tuesday (today).

After the meeting, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb and MNA-elect Ahsan Iqbal addressed the media.

Marriyum, listing Imran as a ‘vote chor ‘(vote thief), said the PTI chief should have at least saved the grace of his own victory speech in which he had stated that he or his party would not have any objection to recount.

“But the champion of lies and U-turns proved good to his reputation on the promise as well, as he had objected to the vote recount in NA-131,” she added.

Marriyum said the people’s mandate was robbed on July 25 through carefully crafted techniques but those irregularities had been exposed. They would further be exposed in detail in the white paper to be issued by the PML-N soon, she added.

She said the PML-N had the right to protest against the mass injustice and therefore a peaceful protest would be staged outside the ECP office.

The PML-N spokesperson strongly condemned the curbs on the freedom of the press and said stifling of journalism would not be accepted at any cost.

She demanded that the covert ban on Jang Group and Dawn broadcast and publications must be lifted with immediate effect. She clarified that the PML-N’s alliance with the other parties was on a one-point agenda of election rigging.

Ahsan said the meeting discussed matters pertaining to mass horse-trading being practiced by PTI in the current circumstances. He said the ill-practices of the advocates of “Naya Pakistan” were bringing back memories of very “Old Pakistan” when such undemocratic ploys of buying votes were rampant. He said the level of rigging and dishonesty being practiced to make Imran the Prime Minister of Pakistan was unprecedented.

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