The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf again threatened the government on Monday to bring the country to a grinding halt if an empowered judicial commission was not set up to investigate alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections.
But the government says PTI’s insistence on the formation of a supra-commission notwithstanding existing laws was delaying the resolution of the issue. Both parties have said that findings of an election tribunal about election results of NA-122 have vindicated their respective claims. But the election tribunal is yet to give its final ruling on the matter. Addressing a press conference, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that according to the tribunal’s audit report more than 34,000 votes had been found bogus. Claiming that the report confirms his assertions about massive rigging in the elections, Mr Khan demanded resignation of National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq who had defeated him in NA-122.
He repeated his claim that the entire National Assembly was a product of bogus elections. “If free and fair elections are conducted, 80 per cent of sitting lawmakers will not be able to make it again,” he said. He said that on the basis of “this report I can say the National Assembly speaker is a stranger in the house. And secondly, can I ask about the status of legislative business presided over by Mr Sadiq”. The PTI chief also questioned the legitimacy of the government. “If a fully empowered judicial commission is set up, I am more than confident that it will prove our claim of massive rigging in the elections and in that case what will be the status of the government which has increased country’s debts.” Mr Khan said the PTI has convened a ‘dharna convention’ on Jan 18 at D-Chowk and if the government didn’t respond to our demand for setting up the judicial commission by that time “I will announce our future course of action, which will definitely make things difficult for the government”.
Earlier, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar claimed at a press conference that negotiations with the PTI were progressing well, but the latter kept on coming up with different demands. “I will not call it mala fide, but the PTI leadership is receiving legal counselling from quarters which appeared to have some other agenda. I am literally confused,” said Mr Dar, who led the government side in talks with the PTI. “The government cannot constitute a judicial commission with overriding effect on all existing laws. It is not possible under the constitution,” he said. Mr Dar said the PTI wanted the findings of the election tribunal and decisions taken so far referred to the proposed judicial commission. “It is also against the constitution.” He said the government could not hold re-election on the basis of certain findings of the judicial commission. The minister said he was trying to contact the PTI leadership for four days, but to no avail.
He requested the PTI to review its demands so that the issue could be resolved because the country could not afford any more political instability. When contacted, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “I have received telephone calls and messages from Senator Dar, but we in the PTI believe there is no need for more meetings with the government because everything has already been explained to it.” Talking to newsmen outside the parliament house, Information Minister Senator Pervez Rashid said: “Once again, the PTI leader is misleading the nation over the audit report of NA-122.” He said if words ‘bogus votes’ were found mentioned in the report as claimed by Imran Khan, “I myself will demand resignation of the National Assembly speaker”. Mr Rashid said the government was ready for forensic investigation into the material used for ballot papers in NA-122. He asked the PTI leadership to accept the election results and let the government concentrate on challenges faced by the country.