Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Monday stopped short of giving a final date for his planned march toward Islamabad, saying that he was giving some more time to the government, but warned that he would not delay it beyond October.
The PTI leader made the remarks during a press conference in Islamabad, a day after his party stunned its rivals and won a majority of seats in by-polls.
"I am giving them (government) time just for the sake of the country," he said. "I repeat that they still have time to announce elections, and if they don't, I will begin my march, and my preparations are almost complete."
Imran accused his political rival and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif of attempting to delay elections, saying "he (Sharif) is afraid to got to polls because of the PTI's constantly growing popularity."
Imran said Nawaz was waiting for the PTI's wave of support to diminish before elections could be held.
He ruled out the possibility of dialogue with the government, saying "this is very hard to do as you can talk to Baloch and Sindhi nationalists, but not with criminals."
The PTI chief said the ultimate goal of the ruling coalition was to secure a National Reconciliation Order (NRO) — a reference to relief in corruption cases.
He said a high-profile appointment such as that of the army chief should not be made by "criminals like Nawaz or Zardari". "The army chief should be appointed on merit," he said.
Torture on PTI leaders creating impression that 'army is out of control, can do anything'
Earlier in the press conference, Imran said his party had a detailed discussion about the "custodial torture" inflicted on PTI leaders, saying that Senator Azam Swati was stripped naked in custody and tortured — the same treatment that was allegedly given to Shahbaz Gill.
"I felt so ashamed that we humiliate our people this way."
The PTI chief questioned the logic behind torturing a "75-year-old senator" over a "mere tweet". "He (Swati) was beaten in front of his grandkids and then was taken to police station where law enforcers handed his custody to agencies, who then subjected him to more torture," he Imran.
Imran said the incident brought disrepute to Pakistan, and created an impression as if "the army is out of control and could do anything."
Detailing his party's next line of action, the PTI chief said, "We have decided that we will call special sessions of KP and Punjab assemblies on this issue."
He added that PTI senators will file a petition with the Supreme Court, while the party will approach international organisations, the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva to register its concern regarding the alleged torture of its leaders.
Without naming anyone, the ex-premier said that "a man posted in Islamabad" was behind the action being taken against his party's leaders.
The PTI chief said the same man was violating the Constitution, defaming the country and sowing the seeds of hatred among the public for institutions. He accused the unidentified individual of trampling the law and the Constitution in an attempt to please the army chief.
Claims to have evidence of PPP's rigging in NA-237, demands re-poll
Imran demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold a re-election in Karachi's NA-237 constituency, claiming that the PPP clinched the seat in the by-poll on Sunday through "rigging".
PTI managed to secure six out of eight National Assembly seats in the crucial by-election on Sunday, while the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) clinched two — NA-157 Multan and NA-237 Karachi — which were bagged by the PTI in the 2018 general elections.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Imran said his party had "all the evidence" that the PPP openly indulged in rigging.
"I also want to highlight that the Sindh election commissioner is on the provincial government's payroll and we have already approached the judicial council against him," he told journalists.
Govt alliance rejects demand for early elections
Later in the day, the PML-N issued a statement saying that the government alliance had "categorically rejected" Imran's demand for early elections, adding that only the coalition parties would decide when polls will be held.
It added that no group would be allowed to impose its decision through the use of force and those taking the law into their hands would be dealt with in accordance with the Constitution and the law.
It also said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would appoint the next army chief as only he had the legal and constitutional right to do so.
The statement condemned Imran's remarks against government leaders and the chief election commissioner.
Islamabad police holds meeting to deal with possible sit-in
Meanwhile, officers of the Islamabad police held a meeting to deal with any possible sit-in, according to a statement released on Twitter.
It added that an assistant superintendent of police was also appointed to the Bani Gala police station in view of the security and public order situation.
"Special security has been deployed at the entry and exit routes of Islamabad," the statement said.
It also said that there were reports about the presence of "suspicious people" around Bani Gala and orders were issued to take action against those committing illegal acts and their supporters.