KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan suggested on Sunday that in the last general elections rigging was carried out in 71 constituencies, and not just in 35 as claimed earlier by PTI.

Soon after the 2013 elections, PTI had alleged that it had come to know of a taped telephone conversation in which the-then Punjab chief minister, Najam Sethi, had assured PML-N chief (and the current prime minister) Nawaz Sharif that the “35 punctures” had been fixed.

The party claimed that the conversation took place on the night of the elections and that it showed rigging had been carried out in 35 constituencies.

However, PTI didn’t raise the issue before the inquiry commission investigating allegations of rigging in the elections.

When journalists asked Mr Khan on Sunday why his party did not raise the matter during proceedings of the poll inquiry commission, he replied: “There were 71 and not 35 punctures during the elections, which is why we did not discuss it.”

He, however, added: “Those who spoke about the ‘35 punctures’ soon after the elections still maintain their stance.”

Mr Khan said his party’s lawyer, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, had submitted before the commission that rigging took place in 71 constituencies and not in 35.

Speaking to journalists at the airport after arriving here from Islamabad he said: “There’s no record of 25 million votes cast in the elections.”

He said he was trying to unearth the “real rigging which took place in Punjab”. “The PTI has proved (before the commission) that returning officers were used for rigging the elections in Punjab.”

Answering a question, he said a recent report about the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in the BBC seemed to be credible because the Karachi-based party had not moved the court against the news organisation. “If the MQM can move the court against me, why it cannot do the same against the BBC?”

The PTI leader said a former chief of the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) did not deny the BBC report which had claimed that India had provided funds to MQM.

He also criticised former president Asif Ali Zardari and said the latter’s statement against the armed forces had served to “tighten the noose around his neck”. “This is why he has fled the country.”

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2015

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