KARACHI: Coalition government mouthpieces on Friday asked PTI chairman Imran Khan to name the “neutrals” who gave him guarantees over Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja’s appointment.

“We demand that you tell us the names of those neutrals,” PML-N’s Malik Ahmed Khan said at a press conference in Islamabad, Dawn.com reported.

Ahmed Khan and PPP leader Saeed Ghani’s statements come in response to claims made by Imran Khan in a recent interview to Express News. The ex-premier had claimed that it was the neutrals — a euphemism he uses to describe the establishment — who suggested Raja’s name as the CEC.

He said that under the 18th Amendment, heads of NAB, ECP and caretaker governments were supposed to be decided amicably by all the political parties.

“At the time of CEC’s appointment, there was a deadlock [among the parties]. So, the neutrals approached us and said the country needed to move forward. “They suggested Sikandar Sultan’s name. I didn’t even know him. But people told us that he was PML-N’s man,” the PTI chief said, adding that when he told the neutrals about this, they guaranteed that the CEC would stay neutral.

Ahmed Khan said: “Show some spine and tell us who were the neutrals who gave you this guarantee.

“Did [Army chief] Gen Bajwa say this to you? And if yes, please have some audacity […] have some courage [… ] and say it. If Gen Faiz Hameed said this, please take his name and say it plainly,” he said.

Separately, talking to reporters in Karachi, Mr Ghani said Imran himself had appointed the CEC and then blamed the “neutrals” for it.

“Who from the neutrals said it? Tell us the name,” he asked. “It will be more fun when he says the name — just ask him.

“Neutrals aren’t just a thing. There must be some people who he [Imran] said passed instructions or pressurised or suggested the [CEC’s] name […] tell us their names. Who said this to you?”

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2022

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