ISLAMABAD: Using the word that he usually reserves to describe the alleged US role in his ouster, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Thursday alleged that ‘interference’ (mudakhlat) was under way to change the results of upcoming by-elections in Punjab.
“The level of interference is that two of the PTI candidates have told me that they have received calls from unknown numbers advising them not to accept PTI tickets,” he said while speaking at the seminar ‘Regime Change and its Fallout on Pakistan’, organised by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA).
The former prime minister insisted that only free and fair elections could address the issues being faced by the country.
He said Pakistan came into being because Muslims wanted freedom. “Pakistan was not made to get rid of one slavery and stay under another one. When I saw the cipher [allegedly given to then Pakistani ambassador Asad Majeed Khan by US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu], I read it three times. It was mentioned that it was Imran Khan’s decision to visit Russia. Our diplomat tried to convince that it was a collective decision, but the US representative insisted that it was not,” he said.
Alleges PTI candidates receiving phone calls asking them not to accept party tickets
Announcing that his party would move the Supreme Court against the high court’s decision, Mr Khan wondered how Hamza Shehbaz could remain the Punjab chief minister when the court had termed ‘flawed’ the electoral process through which he came to power.
He once again insisted that the Election Commission of Pakistan had lost credibility, adding that pre-poll rigging was being carried out in Punjab and the commission remained unmoved in the face of evidence that PTI candidates were receiving phone calls warning them against contesting elections on PTI tickets.
He said the government’s own allies had raised questions over the local bodies’ elections in Sindh, where he claimed “police was used” to manipulate the polls. He also warned that elections in Punjab would be even more chaotic as the situation there was different from Sindh.
The former premier said the current “imposed government” was proving to be disastrous for the country and its institutions, adding that the only way to get the country out of the “prevailing untold crises” was to hold early, free and fair polls.
He said the major problem of poor countries was that the powerful remained unpunished, as they looted billions of dollars every year with complete immunity. He said the gravity of the situation could be judged from the fact that $7,000 billion of poor countries had been lying in offshore companies. He said “big robbers” had been given a clean chit in Rs1,100 billion corruption cases because all facilities were being given to the ruling class.
“Shaukat Tarin (former finance minister) and I also told ‘neutrals’ that there would be political instability if the conspiracy [against PTI government] succeeded because it would have severe implications for the country,” Mr Khan added.
He said the plan was going on for a year, but it was unbelievable that Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, who ruled the country for 30 years but did nothing, except loot and plunders, would come back to power.
The PTI chairman added that he had been saying that these “thieves” would gang up against him and start blackmailing to get NRO [deal].
Talking about Pakistan’s decision to join the US war on terror, Imran Khan said he understood the West better than these people as there was no permanent friend and foe in international politics, but only interest which was evident from the country’s huge sacrifices in the war, but the US never acknowledged them.
Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2022