ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan on Monday dropped strong hints of launching a fresh agitation this year, but against the Election Com­mission of Pakistan (ECP), and not against the government.

“We may take to the streets again, but this time against the ECP because it has failed to bring about reforms in election laws in line with the findings of the Supreme Court’s inquiry commission in the rigging case,” the Tehreek-i-Insaf chief said during a get-together with members of the Supreme Court Press Association at his palatial residence in Banigala.

Naeemul Haq, the PTI’s information secretary, and spokesperson Fawad Chaud­hry were also present.

Mr Khan recalled that the Supreme Court had come out with 40 findings in its verdict on alleged rigging in the 2013 general election, but the ECP was “sitting idle” instead of amending laws before the 2018 elections.

On the basis of the findings suggested by the three-man judicial commission, PTI had developed a charter of demands that it would submit to the ECP to learn what it had done in this regard.

Imran Khan, however, clarified that his party would accept the judgment of the Supreme Court on Panama Papers case.

He appreciated the professionalism of the five-judge Supreme Court bench which heard the case, adding they were more prepared than the party’s counsel and put pertinent questions during the proceedings.

In reply to a question about entering into fresh alliances before the general election, Imran Khan said the party would be “very careful this time” in awarding tickets for the election.

Explaining why PTI chose to knock at the gates of the Supreme Court by filing the case over the Panama Papers, the PTI chief said the leaks had helped expose the Sharif family.

“To attack the menace of corruption, it is necessary to expose Sharifs,” he said.

On the trial of terror suspects by military courts, Khan said had his party opposed the government’s move to set up military courts, a message would have gone out that PTI was opposing the fight against terrorism.

Mr Khan admitted that his preoccupation with the sit-in in 2014 and later with the Panama case had not allowed him to concentrate on matters of governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Although he was confident that PTI would again form the provincial government in KP after the next elections, Imran Khan conceded that corruption existed in the province “at the lowest level”.

“My preoccupation with the sit-in also diverted my attention from Karachi. We were unable to cash in on the disarray in MQM ranks after August last year.”

Claiming that Karachi was the “PTI’s city”, Mr Khan said the people of the country’s biggest metropolis were more mature politically than other cities of the country, recalling that major movements always used to originate from this city in the past.

“Before the next elections I am going to focus my attention and energy on Karachi in order to take advantage of the political situation there,” he said.

About the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final, Imran Khan said he did not watch the game, but added that he felt the entire tournament should have been held in Pakistan instead of the UAE.

“I have been talking for the past 40 years about developing regional competitions to strengthen cricket in the country,” he said, recalling his opposition to participation of departmental teams in major national tournaments.

However, he was unsparing in his remarks about PSL chairman Najam Sethi, accusing him of damaging cricket by holding the closing ceremony of PSL under the shadow of 30,000 security personnel and by “clamping a curfew-like situation”.

“They organised the final in Lahore only to distract the nation’s attention from the Panama Papers saga,” he observed.

“Had any untoward incident occurred, cricket would have been buried in the country for all times to come.”

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2017

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