ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the demand that only long-time party workers be given tickets for coming general elections, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said on Friday that winning the elections was the top priority of his party and it was possible only through electable candidates.

Speaking to party workers who have been staging a sit-in outside his Banigala residence for over a week while demanding tickets for PTI loyalists, Mr Khan said that there was no question of (a difference between) new and old workers.

He said that the 126 days of the sit-in staged in 2014 were not as difficult for him as the three weeks during which party tickets were distributed.

Urges caretaker govt to take public into confidence over economic conditions of country

“We worked 12 hours a day to decide about the tickets. We received as many as 4,500 applications for tickets and awarded around 550 tickets,” the PTI chief said. “After observing reaction over ticket distribution, I decided to review the process. I have been working on it for the last one week and have also got surveys conducted in many areas to ensure fair distribution of tickets.”

He said that there were complaints about only 10 per cent tickets but during the review process it was observed that there was almost no difference between the candidates who were awarded tickets and who were not. In some constituencies long-time workers were ignored because newcomers were more aware about how to contest elections.

“It is not an easy task to review ticket distribution and the process will be completed in three to four days. I have not awarded a single ticket to my relative or friend. However I want to make it clear that tickets will be awarded to those who know the science of contesting elections because change cannot be brought without winning the elections. So our first priority is to win the elections,” Mr Khan said.

About reserved seats, he said that it was more difficult to award tickets to women workers, adding that it was being considered that women candidates should be able to understand the proceedings of assemblies and play a role in legislation.

Following Mr Khan’s speech, protesters ended their dharna outside his residence.

Meanwhile, the PTI chief has urged the caretaker government to take the people into confidence over economic conditions of the country.

He said in a tweet that though the PML-N government had saved billions of dollars because of decline in oil prices at international level, at the end of its five-year tenure it had left the national economy in a dismal state.

“The former government has left Pakistan with record fiscal and current account deficit, negligible net foreign exchange reserves, highest circular debt, highest losses in state owned enterprises, highest debt to Gross Domestic Product at 70 per cent and downwards economic ratings,” Mr Khan said.

In another tweet, he said that the caretaker government must elaborate the correct economic situation to the nation.

He said that headlines of different newspapers claimed that the current account deficit had hit record $16 billion in 11 months and international rating agency Moody’s had downgraded Pakistan’s rating. Similarly newspapers claimed that foreign direct investment had decreased, as compared to last year, and progress was visible only in advertisements, he said.

PPP criticises Rangers deployment at Banigala

Pakistan Peoples Party secretary general Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari has criticised deployment of Rangers outside the residence of the PTI chief.

He said in a statement that Mr Khan had been provided unusual protocol and Rangers had been deployed at Banigala to “protect him from disgruntled workers of his own party”. A large number of policemen have also been deployed at his residence.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018