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Nawaz, Imran trade barbs over elections, SSP torture case

Updated May 05, 2018

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IMRAN Khan talking to media after his acquittal in the case about attack on a police officer. (Right) Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif along with Maryam Nawaz speaking to journalists after appearing in the accountability court on Friday.—PPI/Online
IMRAN Khan talking to media after his acquittal in the case about attack on a police officer. (Right) Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif along with Maryam Nawaz speaking to journalists after appearing in the accountability court on Friday.—PPI/Online

ISLAMABAD: In a renewed exchange of allegations, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) accused the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief of looking towards the umpire’s finger instead of believing in voters while the latter described the PML-N government as worse than a military dictatorship.

PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif in an apparent reaction to PTI chief Imran Khan’s statement that the polls could be delayed for one and a half months warned that his party would not tolerate delay for a single day and expressed doubts over transparency of the elections.

The two parties were also seen at loggerheads over the SSP Asmatullah Junejo case, with the PML-N criticising the acquittal of Mr Khan and the PTI blaming the ruling party for misusing the anti-terror law to lodge the FIR against him.

Federal judicial complex, where PML-N chief is facing a NAB reference and where an ATC tried PTI chairman, becomes hub of political activities

The federal judicial complex, which houses the accountability court where Mr Sharif is facing NAB references as well as the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) that acquitted Mr Khan in the SSP case, became a hub of political activities on Friday as both the leaders used it as a platform to blame each other while interacting with the media.

Criticising the acquittal of Mr Khan in the SSP torture case, the PML-N supreme leader said a negative signal had been given to the law-enforcement agencies, especially to police, that the person accused of attacking the decorated police officer got off scot-free without even facing the trial and appearing in court.

He was of the opinion that the accountability court did not allow him to visit his ailing spouse. He said his party leaders were being convicted of contempt of court. He said he was losing confidence in courts and had serious doubt about the fairness and transparency in next general elections.

Responding to the recent TV interview of Imran Khan in which he expressed the possibility that the elections might be delayed for one and a half months, the supreme leader of the ruling party said Mr Khan was reluctant to go to the people after his ‘flop show’ in Lahore — a reference to PTI’s rally on April 29.

He said Mr Khan had always waited for umpire’s signal. “Instead of believing in the thumbs of voters, he always looks towards umpire’s finger.”

The PTI chairman in response to the recent speeches of Mr Sharif in which the ex-premier said the PML-N would contest against Khalai makhlooq (aliens) in the next general elections said that Mr Sharif by making such claims was doing a favour to the PTI. Mr Sharif said voting for the PTI was tantamount to vote for the army and the judiciary, he recalled. “It is a blessing in disguise, as for a voter the judiciary is at its peak and military is rendering great service for law and order and countering terrorism in the country,” said Mr Khan, adding that he was thankful to Mr Sharif for this help as people were very happy with both institutions.

Mr Khan also praised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for initiating inquiries against powerful politicians. In the past, he said, NAB used to target low-profile government officials or opposition parties only.

He said the PTI gave an ‘open offer’ to NAB for the accountability of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

In response to the question of a journalist about the cases dropped by NAB in Sindh against several politicians, he said the PTI was finalising the date for a public rally for Karachi before Eid. The PTI will hold a public rally in Waziristan before moving to Karachi, according to the party’s central information secretary.

Mr Khan criticised the PML-N government for lodging a First Information Report (FIR) against himself under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997. “This is how the ATA is misused,” he said, terming the PML-N government ‘worse than the military dictatorship’. He said the PTI after coming to power would change all such laws.

Later, PTI’s central secretary information Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference the PML-N government deliberately delayed merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to please its coalition partners, Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Maulana Fazalur Rehman.

The PTI, which had started its election campaign from Lahore, would hold a public rally in Waziristan before moving to Karachi, Mr Chaudhry added.

About the caretaker set-up, he said the PTI and the media should be included in the consultative process to finalise an interim set-up that was being mutually decided by the PPP (leading the opposition parties) and the ruling PML-N at present.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2018