LAHORE: Invoking the Supreme Court’s observation that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was acting like a “Sicilian Mafia”, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was not an impartial body but rather a “Nawaz-Zardari Commission” that was being used to blackmail him.

Speaking to journalists at Allama Iqbal International Airport here on Friday, Mr Khan deplored the contempt charges pressed against him by the ECP. “I have already explained my position in a letter sent to the commission but still it called me for contempt,” he said.

He said that the ECP was not a judicial body but an administrative one. He asked whether the ECP had ever summoned anyone on contempt charges, and added that the PTI would thrash out the issue in the Islamabad High Court on Sept 20. “I am being victimised by the ECP for raising the Panama Papers case in the country,” he claimed.

The ECP was a biased “umpire” raised by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, the PTI chief said.

Mr Sharif and Mr Shah had jointly appointed the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, he said, and wondered how the bureau could take up corruption cases against either of the two. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI had allowed the Peshawar High Court chief justice to appoint the chairperson of the province’s Ehtesaab Commission, he said.

In response to a question about the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the review petitions filed by the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the PTI chief said that Mr Sharif’s “Mujhe Kyun Nikala” campaign on GT Road had been aimed at pressuring the judiciary. “The GT Road campaign was meant to get the NAB’s monitoring judge removed, but the mafia’s tactics had failed,” he said.

Mr Khan claimed that the Sharif family wanted to remove the monitoring judge in order to stretch the Panama Papers case for several years with the help of state institutions working at their behest. He said that state institutions had kept the Asghar Khan case pending for almost two decades and that was what they had wanted for the case pertaining to the Sharif family’s properties abroad. “No state institution acted against the interests of the Sharif family,” he said. Instead, he added, the Sharif family was using state institutions to victimise those working against their interests.

The PTI chairman claimed that the Sharifs were planning on making fools of the masses once again, not knowing that social media had provided the nation great awareness. “The residents of NA-120 will throng the polling stations on Sunday (tomorrow) and vote out the corrupt Sharif family. People have shed their fear of the police and the PML-N’s goons... The time of the Sharifs is over and they will soon land in Adiala Jail,” he said.

The PTI chief had led a “Karo Faisala Tabdeeli Ka” rally on The Mall on Thursday in which he called on the residents of NA-120 to defeat the “corruption mafia” by voting for the PTI in the by-election on Sunday.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2017

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