Govt Woos Imran Khan With Rigging Debate Challenge

The government on Wednesday invited the protesting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) to have a debate in the parliament over the Post-Election Review Report 2013.

The Election Commission recently released this report on its website but disowned it later, calling it a compilation of the observers’ work.  Information Minister Senator Parvez Rashid extended the offer of debate at a press conference.

Ishaq Dar images
Govt woos Imran with rigging debate challenge

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Minister of State for IT Anusha Rehman also accompanied him to release a ‘factsheet’ over PTI’s allegations of rigging in the general elections.  “The (ECP) report did not substantiate accusations of Imran Khan, particularly about printing of ballot papers, 35 punctures and delaying the results to rig elections. Instead, neutral election observers from around the globe appreciated fairness of the elections,” Rashid said. He added the report had highlighted some irregularities but the responsibility lies with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the caretaker government.

Rashid referred to ‘false’ claims of Imran Khan and reports of different observers regarding general elections uploaded on the website of the Election Commission, and challenged the PTI leader to come to the parliament to debate its contents.  Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said, “Even if we give 20 (NA seats) as gift, the PTI would not be in a position to get simple majority to form government.” Dar also referred to PTI’s internal post-elections report compiled by the Tasneem Noorani Review Commission, and said reasons for PTI defeat were internal party problems, corruption in award of party tickets, ignoring rural areas of the country and arrogant attitude of Imran Khan. 

Dar said it had happened for the first time that 37 million bogus or duplicate votes were deleted, photographs of voters were published on voters list, neutral caretaker set-up was put in place and the Election Commission was constituted in a transparent manner. He pointed out that the PML-N had no nominee in the caretaker set-up while Imran Khan concurred with the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner, composition of the Commission and appointment of the caretaker prime minister.  The PML-N won 148 seats of the National Assembly as against the required 136 for simple majority on general seats while PTI got just 34 including those of minorities and women reserved seats, the minister said. He wondered how a party with just 34 seats can lay claim to formation of a government.

Ishaq Dar said if the PTI had any complaints against elections then it should have filed petitions with the election tribunals. Giving details, he said that the PTI filed 58 petitions including 30 against National Assembly constituencies out of which only 15 were from Punjab, and PML-N and PTI candidates were in direct contest in just two of these constituencies. He said the PML-N was more than willing to go for comprehensive electoral reforms and other measures to ensure greater transparency of future elections and he revelled they had offered Shah Mahmood Qureshi of the PTI to take over the chairmanship of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms.  The finance minister said that Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) observed the 2013 general elections with a work force of 41,000 staff. He said the results of 246 constituencies compiled by FAFEN matched with that of the ECP. He said the sit-ins have caused a huge financial loss to the country.

He said due to the postponement of the visit of the Chinese president, MoUs worth 32 billion dollars have also been put off.  Ishaq Dar said that the state can sweep protesters by the use of force, but the government and the prime minister decided to save each and every child and woman who are being used as human shield. He said that five and a half out of six demands of PTI have been accepted by the PML-N, but there are differences over Terms of Reference of the proposed Judicial Commission to investigate into the allegations in the elections.  Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman said that a number of international observers have declared the 2013 general elections most credible in the history of the country. She said that all the polls and surveys conducted in 2012, in their assessment reports published in 2013, have described the PTI as third major party in the country, PPP second while PML-N was number one party with respect to its popularity.  

Model Town incident  a conspiracy’ Agencies add: The government will refrain from using force against people sitting outside Parliament and will follow its policy of restrain because Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) are using women and children as human shield and wish to get bodies and bloodshed out of their protests. This was stated by Federal Minister of Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rasheed in an interview with foreign media on Wednesday. When asked about possibility of any conspiracy against the PML-N government with reference to Model Town Lahore incident, he said there were certain indicators leading to such theories. 

He was of the view that people of the country have rejected all the attempts to destabilise democracy and have condemned those factors within the media and politics who wish to spread anarchy in the country. The minister reemphasized his viewpoint that people who attacked Pakistan Television Headquarters and blocked transmission of state-run television were technical people and by designed attacked and entered PTV transmission wing. He said that attackers were instigated by the speeches of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan who directed them to attack government buildings. -nation