ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan announced a complete boycott of Geo TV and the Jang Group for allegedly helping the PML-N emerge victorious in the general elections of 2013.

The announcement came at a press conference at his party’s headquarters in the capital, ahead of his party’s planned protest against what the PTI called the ‘rigged’ elections.

The boycott also coincides with the tensions simmering between the embattled media house and the Inter-Services Intelligence over the channel’s treatment of allegations levelled in the wake of the attack on senior journalist Hamid Mir.

Dressed in a white shalwar-kameez, Khan asked the current chief justice to take notice of how, with the support of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, this powerful media house had ‘stolen’ the general elections in favour of one party.

He alleged that when the now-retired chief justice made an unprecedented appearance at a lecture for returning officers before the general elections, it sent a signal to the TV channel that declared the PML-N victorious when only 20 per cent of vote had been counted.

Over the past few weeks, Khan has been increasingly vocal about the former chief justice’s alleged role in securing the elections for the PML-N, but this was the first time he came out so openly against both Iftikhar Chaudhry and Geo TV, putting them squarely in his crosshairs. Party leaders have criticised the channel in the past for its partisan attitude towards the PTI, but never made any direct allegations, until now.

During the press conference, journalists were provided with a list of sources where Geo is alleged to have received funding from.

“PTI has decided to boycott Geo for its role in rigging (the elections) and no PTI representative will appear on Geo or subscribe to Jang Group newspapers till such time as the TV channel apologises for its role in the rigging of the general elections,” Mr Khan read out a statement at the press conference.

“The only thing the PTI demands is independent investigations into complaints duly submitted by PTI candidates before election tribunals and the Supreme Court,” he said, adding that his party wanted to ensure that all future elections were free and fair in the true sense.

The PTI chief said that in NA-118, 170 of the 325 bags had been opened and only 69 had all the necessary documents. “Of the 170,000 votes cast, only 81,000 had a partial or complete record and 70 bags had been tampered with,” he said.

He also deplored that one of his party’s candidates, Hamid Zaman of NA-118, had to spend Rs1.7 million on verification from Nadra, Rs1.5m on moving the tribunal and nearly Rs2m for legal expenses just to plead his case. “Is this democracy where one has to get justice at the cost of hard earned money,” Khan asked.

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