KARACHI: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s vice-chairman, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, has said he has filed nomination forms for the May 11 general elections from two constituencies of Tharparkar district, NA 228 and NA 230, as an independent candidate.
Addressing a press conference at the Raja House here along with PML-F chief Pir Pagara, Mr Qureshi expressed gratitude to the latter for inviting him to contest elections from Sindh.
He warned against extending the polling date, saying that any change in the election schedule would open a Pandora’s Box. The Supreme Court had already made it clear that it would not allow any extra-constitutional step.
He said the PPP-led governments at the centre and in Sindh over the past five years had put the country in a precarious situation where it was facing serious challenges of circular debt, institutional deterioration, poverty, ethnicity, terrorism and law and order. He said that stories of corruption and ‘existence of a chief minister in every district’ was a manifestation of the incompetence of the rulers.
“In view of the challenges, we have decided to unite all patriotic forces that believe in the federation, whose strength is declining, to find a way to steer the country on the way forward.”
He said the elections would decide whether people wanted to hand over the country to those who had bartered away national interest.
He said there was no solution except elections because a stable and strong federation was not possible without democracy. The elections should be held on time and in accordance with the constitution which decreed that the caretaker government’s sole agenda was to create an atmosphere in which free, fair and transparent elections could be held.
Mr Qureshi said the dream of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was a new, strong and prosperous Pakistan.
He said the coming period, when forces of 38 countries led by Nato would be pulling out of Afghanistan, would test the Pakistani leaders’ abilities.
Answering a question, Mr Qureshi alleged that President Asif Ali Zardari and the PPP had prepared a strategy to give minimum time for electioneering.
He said the death anniversary of PPP’s founder chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had always been commemorated in a big way even when the late Benazir Bhutto was in exile but the last government had limited the event to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh which was a matter to ponder for the ideological party workers.
Pir Pagara thanked Mr Qureshi for accepting his invitation to contest the elections from Sindh and said it would fulfill the desire of his late father who had been keen to see the followers of the Ghausia and Hur Jamaats come together. He said his party would ensure Mr Qureshi’s victory.
The PML-F chief expressed confidence that Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, leader of another PML faction, would support the alliance.
Pir Pagara alleged that the PPP was still ruling in Sindh. He said the Punjab chief secretary had been changed but similar transfer orders in Sindh had not been implemented.
He said the time given for scrutiny of the nomination papers was not sufficient to screen out defaulters of the agriculture bank in Punjab and Sindh. The returning officers ought to concentrate on recovering public money instead of asking irrelevant questions from candidates, he said.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Qureshi said he had permission from PTI chief Imran Khan for all his decisions. He said his move to contest the elections as an independent candidate was a “technical issue”.
An official of the Election Commission of Pakistan said there was no bar on a person contesting election from one constituency as an independent candidate and from another as a candidate of some party.