‘Confident’ Imran pins hopes on 2018 elections

Updated November 27, 2016


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan may be confident of a victory in the Panamagate case before the Supreme Court, but he is not putting all his eggs in one basket.

Speaking to members of the Supreme Court Press Association at his Banigala residence on Saturday, he said that in case the PTI lost the case, the party would kick-start preparations for the 2018 general elections.

Flanked by the party’s secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen and senior party officials Shafqat Abbasi and Naeemul Haq, as well as lawyer Chaudhry Faisal Hussain, Mr Khan said the party would “mobilise public opinion through our election campaign” and show “how the ruling elite fooled the entire nation through loot and plunder”.

Earlier, he said, the party was not prepared and did not know how to check rigging in the elections. However, he claimed that with each recent by-election, the PTI’s vote bank was increasing exponentially.

Mr Khan said this time around, the party would also focus on mobilising and organising workers in Sindh and Balochistan.

PTI chief claims party has evidence to prove Qatari letter was an ‘afterthought’

Contrary to popular opinion that the Qatari prince’s letter had changed the outlook of the case, Mr Khan expressed optimism about the Supreme Court’s awaited judgement.

“We are in possession of some new documents and evidence to prove the Sharifs’ money trail and I am quite confident that the new PTI legal team will be able to establish before the SC that the Qatari letter the PML-N side provided to the court was just an afterthought, not factual and meant only to confuse the people.”

On Nov 15, the counsel for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children presented a letter from former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Javer al Thani, deposing that his father had longstanding business relations with PM Sharif’s father, and that the four apartments on Park Lane in London were registered in the ownership of two offshore companies, the bearer share certificates of which were kept in Qatar during that time.

Recalling three speeches the prime minister made on the topic, Mr Khan said that PM Sharif had admitted to the London flats, but never even hinted at his family’s association with the Qatari ruling family.

He said his party had done what it could do and had gone to the SC because state institutions were not serving the state sincerely.

Mr Khan added that his party only had to convince the court that the ruling family was misleading it. Talking about the burden of proof, he said court proceedings were not adversarial but inquisitorial, and the SC enjoys the authority to summon any evidence from the other side to prove their innocence.

This was necessary, he said, since none of the institutions — such as the Election Commission of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, National Accountability Bureau or Federal Investigation Agency, were under the PTI’s command and could not be asked for information. If this were a true democracy, he said, it would have been possible for the party to get proper records from government departments.

Mr Khan said: “It is not the PTI, but the entire judicial system of the country that is on trial.” He also expressed confidence that the PTI had won the case politically, saying everybody was convinced that the ruling family allegedly acquired properties through loot and plunder.

He said social media was a powerful weapon that brings awareness and mobilisation to people for any cause, and the recent US presidential election and the Brexit referendum were a few examples of this.

Mr Khan expressed bitterness over the government’s treatment of PTI members, saying it had unleashed the FBR against them, which indicated that democracy was not performing in the country.

“The PTI is the only party in the country which is fighting the entire government’s might head-on, but [is] being blackmailed and victimised at the hands of the government,” he said, emphasising that it is the responsibility of opposition parties in any democratic set-up to keep the government on its toes at all times by highlighting its follies.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2016