• PTI founder says will approach Supreme Court against ‘rigged’ polls; thanks supporters for ‘two-thirds’ majority
• Names Gandapur for KP CM, yet to decide on PM slot

ISLAMABAD: As his opponents cobble up a coalition to rule for the next five years, PTI founder Imran Khan on Tuesday revealed that the former ruling party was willing to talk to all political parties except for the PPP, PML-N and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-P).

The remarks by the former premier came at a time when his rivals — despite failing to secure a majority in the lower house of parliament — have decided to enter an alliance, likely to be led by the PML-N, with the help of erstwhile Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) partners. Mr Khan appeared before a judge in cases registered against him in connection with the violence on May 9.

Speaking to reporters at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, Imran Khan revealed that the PTI information secretary had been tasked to approach the political parties, except for the ones mentioned above, to initiate a dialogue.

In response to a question about whether the PTI would form the federal government, Imran Khan said that his party’s priority was to challenge the results of the polls in the Supreme Court. He said he had never witnessed such a rigged election and urged all political parties, calling out rigging, to form a joint front.

According to the PTI leader, transparent elections were the only solution to the problems faced by Pakistan as rigged politics would lead to more economic uncertainty. He claimed he knew his party had won the election when the announcement of results was delayed on the election night and the PML-N supreme leader, Nawaz Sharif, postponed his media talk.

He claimed that the PML-N supremo and his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, both lost the election, while PTI’s candidate Aliya Hamza secured “more than 100,000” votes while contesting elections from jail.

In a reference to the efforts to form a coalition by his opponents, Imran Khan alleged that efforts were underway to “impose a money-laundering syndicate” on Pakistan and alleged that the Sharif family was the “biggest money launderer” in the country.

Gandapur for CM

Though there has been no discussion in the PTI about its candidate for the prime minister, the party has decided to nominate Ali Amin Gandapur for the post of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s chief minister.

Mr Gandapur, who had served as a federal minister during the PTI government, contested polls on a National Assembly seat (NA-44) and a provincial seat (PK-113) in Dera Ismail Khan. In KP, the PTI-backed candidates in a comfortable majority to form the provincial government.

Imran Khan also denied the reports of an alleged meeting with ‘high-profile’ persons at the jail as well as rumours about his transfer from Adiala to Banigala.

He also pointed out that the Islamabad High Court was hearing his wife, Bushra Bibi’s plea to move her from Banigala, which was declared a sub-jail to the Adiala Jail.

Mr Khan and his wife were sentenced by a special court in January in the Toshakhana case. However, Bushra Bibi was moved to Banigala, which was declared a sub-jail by the government.

Message of gratitude

In his message to PTI supporters from jail, “I express my heartfelt gratitude to the people of Pakistan for entrusting PTI with a resounding two-thirds majority. It was heartening to see the massive turnout. The families voting together, including women and children—truly exemplified the essence of democracy.”

“I would like to especially commend our social media for its relentless efforts to stay ahead of the curve,” the message posted on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) read. “I also appreciate the role of the resilient polling agents who secured Form 45 in the face of harassment and threats.”

“As the people of Pakistan have clearly pronounced their verdict, there is a dire need for democracy and fairness in Pakistan’s elections. I warn against the misadventure of forming a government with stolen votes. Such daylight robbery will not only be a disrespect to the citizens but will also push the country’s economy further into a downward spiral,” the former prime minister added.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi also congratulated the party’s young supporters for their participation in the election and claimed that the international media had termed the nationwide exercise as rigged.

He said people had rejected the parties launched against the PTI and dem­anded a probe into the complaints of rigging. People cannot accept the government formed through the rigged elections, he asserted.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2024

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