PTI warns caretakers of treason charge if they ‘overstep mandate’

Published January 25, 2023
<p>PTI leaders Fawad Chau­dhry and Hammad Azhar speak to media in Lahore on Tuesday. — Screengrab</p>

PTI leaders Fawad Chau­dhry and Hammad Azhar speak to media in Lahore on Tuesday. — Screengrab

• Power is fleeting, PTI is not, says Fawad
• Protesters seek removal of the ‘key figure in regime change plot’
• Delegation of lawmakers ‘denied audience’ with CJP

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Tue­sday warned that all those becoming part of the caretaker set-ups — including the Punjab chief minister and Election Commi­ssion of Pakistan — and overstepping their mandate would be tried under sedition charge once the PTI returns to power.

The warning came from PTI leaders Fawad Chau­dhry and Hammad Azhar, two days after Mohsin Raza Naqvi, a Pakistan Democ­ratic Movement (PDM) nominee, was sworn in as caretaker chief executive of the province.

Talking to reporters outside the Zaman Park residence of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Mr Chaudhry said the PTI owes it to the people that everyone and anyone trying to influence, looting the nation’s wealth and overstepping their mandate, should be punished under Article 6 of the Constitution.

He later included the governors of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the same list, saying both had not announced the date for elections since the dissolution of the assemblies in the two provinces over 10 days ago.

“By doing so, both are subverting the Constitution and exposing themselves to a trial under the same article. They better behave constitutionally,” he warned both governors.

“We have written to the Election Commission that those responsible for the worst kind of human rights violations against PTI workers on May 25 are being brought back to Punjab. If they return and try to influence elections, they will be chased legally once the PTI is back in power.

“They must keep in mind that power does not stay permanently with anyone. You may be in power for three months, six months or a year (a thinly-veiled reference to widespread speculation that the tenure of caretaker set-ups may be exte­nded on one pretext and the other). Power will ultima­tely fade and the PTI will not,” Mr Chaudhry said.

LAHORE: PTI leaders Ejaz Chaudhry, Hammad Azhar and others lead the protest against ECP’s selection of Mohsin Naqvi as interim Punjab CM, at Lower Mall, on Tuesday. —Arif Ali / White Star
LAHORE: PTI leaders Ejaz Chaudhry, Hammad Azhar and others lead the protest against ECP’s selection of Mohsin Naqvi as interim Punjab CM, at Lower Mall, on Tuesday. —Arif Ali / White Star

Hammad Azhar said: “It has just been decided at the party level that all those trying to influence or steal public mandate in the next elections will surely be dealt under the subversion provision of the Constitution. The PTI will not spare anyone trying to violate the ‘sacred right’ of people to choose a government of their choice.”

Mr Chaudhry added that the country had already experienced political meltdown as 65 per cent seats of parliament stood vacant now. “Economic meltdown is just around the corner. Even in these circumstances, the ruling elite has nothing to do but conspire against Imran Khan and the PTI,” he alleged.

The PTI leader said his party had sent a limited number of members back to the National Assembly for depriving Raja Riaz (a party rebel) of his status as leader of opposition. But suddenly, the speaker’s office, which had not been accessible for the past three days, sprang into action and accepted over 40 resignations of the PTI MNAs and the ECP, as expected, played the role of a post office and quickly notified the decision, he regretted. “This is a crude display of moral deficit.”

Mr Chaudhry also tweeted that the purpose of PTI members going back to the assembly was to oust Raja Riaz from the position of the opposition leader.

Otherwise, we have no reason to return to the National Assembly, he tweeted, adding: “Right now, Shehbaz Sharif and his government have lost the support of 172 lawmakers.”

He also pointed out that 40 per cent of seats in the NA were now empty. “The only solution to this crisis is elections.”

While asking the judiciary to play its role, the PTI leader pointed an accusing figure at it as well: “The judiciary should also be blamed for the current mess. It was Supreme Court’s decision that has created the current crisis. It must try to clean it now. Take notice, set things right.”

PTI MNAs fail to meet CJP

Although there was no official word from the NA Secretariat about the fate of the remaining PTI MNAs whose resignations had not yet been ‘formally’ approved by the speaker, a delegation of eight PTI MNAs visited the Supreme Court on Tuesday to meet the chief justice over the issue of resignations.

Led by Amir Dogar, the delegates were not allowed an audience with either the CJP or the SC registrar, sources said.

Later, Mr Dogar said they wanted discuss the issue of the acceptance of their resignations by the NA speaker with the CJP. He said the apex court had advised the PTI to return to the assembly, but the government had accepted their resignations.

The delegation included Amir Sultan, Ghulam Mohammad Lali, Lal Chand Malhi, Khawaja Shiraz, Zulfiqar Ali Khan, Suhaib Hasan and Rashid Mehmood.

Protest against caretakers

Meanwhile, PTI leaders and workers staged their first demonstration against the caretaker chief minister of Punjab. After a smaller demonstration in front of the isolated provincial office of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) earlier in the day, the protest shifted to the busy Lower Mall, where its ranks swelled.

Addressing the crowd, PTI leaders said that characters of regime change conspiracy were being appointed in the name of caretakers, which the party would not accept.

The entire provincial leadership of the party, including Dr Yasmin Rashid, Shafqat Mahmood, Hammad Azhar, Senator Azam Swati, Senator Ahmad Waleed, Mian Mahmoodur Rashid, Murad Ras, Abrarul Haq and Zubair Niazi were present on the occassion.

They said the caretaker chief minister was one of the main characters of the regime change plot, and he was on his next assignment of pressing the PTI into submission, but it would not happen. All state institutions, they added, should stay within their constitutional limit.

Holding placards, the participants demanded removal of the newly-appointed caretaker chief executive of Punjab. The workers also staged a sit-in and blocked traffic for some time. They raised slogans against the Election Commission and the caretaker CM.

The crowd was told that Imran Khan and his party were fighting for Pakistan and would not budge an inch from principled position, come what may. The PTI had sacrificed two provincial governments for its principles, the leaders said.

They said nobody could stop the ‘real freedom’ as “we would snatch it as it is our basic right”. Since the PTI would return with two-thirds majority if elections were held, “they are trying to delay elections”, the PTI leaders said, referring to the PML-N and PPP.

The PPP and the PML-N had always tried to sneak to into power though conspiracies because both of them cannot win elections, but the PTI would not let it happen this time, they asserted.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2023

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