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June 4, 2015

Imran sends political opponents into a spin


June 4, 2015

DUBAI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has apparently stumped the entire political leadership of the country by conceding that he was ready for fresh local government (LG) polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) or even provincial assembly elections if push came to shove.
Claiming that if new elections were held under Army supervision with a staggered division-wise voting schedule, the PTI would emerge as a bigger winner, Imran Khan says he was ready and the ball was now in the court of his opponents if they wanted to set this precedent.
Reluctantly ANP leader Asfandyar Wali has also endorsed Imran Khan demanding fresh provincial assembly polls under the Army. JUI-F, Jamaat-e-Islami and PML-N are confused how to respond because they could be the big losers, not just in KP but at the national level as well.
The reason is that if accusations are accepted as the basis for ordering fresh polls, then the same formula may have to be applied in Punjab and Sindh and at the Centre.And if the Supreme Court Judicial Commission probing the 2013 polls confirms rigging or even irregularities, at the same or a higher scale than is being blamed in the KP LG polls, the case for fresh national polls will become extremely strong.
Imran Khan may thus have some solid reasons why he is repeatedly claiming that 2015 may be the election year for new national polls.In this context while Asfandyar Wali may have fallen in the Imran trap, others, and especially Nawaz Sharif, will have to take a deep look at the consequences if PML-N or PPP support or call for new elections in KP.
It is obvious that the evidence produced before the SC Judicial Commission may or may not prove a systematic pattern of rigging but it will certainly prove that 2013 national polls were no different from the rigging being alleged in KP LG polls. In fact it may turn out that 2013 was far worse than KP.
To be fair, all the anti-PTI parties have raised a hue and cry about the polls when most

of their own candidates were doing exactly the same irregularities.So if some PTI men were involved and others had also joined in, it may be seriously questionable but if the scale was so big that a whole new election may be needed, then the same formula will have to be applied for 2013 giving nightmares to the sitting governments in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.
Imran Khan is confident that his margin of victory in KP is so large that he can afford a new election, at the local or provincial level at any time.But if by sacrificing his latest victory and even his government in Peshawar, he can force fresh polls all over the country, it does not look like a bad bargain for him.
Some astute advisers are even telling the PTI chief to take an initiative and proactively announce fresh polls for local bodies as well as dissolve his provincial assembly. Those who dare, take the share, these analysts argue.

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