PESHAWAR: In his fiery inaugural speech, the newly elected Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Ali Amin Gandapur, demanded a judicial inquiry into the May 9 riots.

“We have been constantly asking for it [judicial inquiry]. I call upon the Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan [referring to Justice Qaez Faiz Isa] to form [a judicial commission] and see who are the beneficiaries [of May 9],” Mr Gandapur demanded soon after his election as the province’s chief executive.

Mr Gandapur, who began his speech by expressing his heartbreak over becoming chief minister as an independent candidate, stated, “I want to put on the record that the injustice against the party [referring to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf], our leader, workers, and leadership has no parallel anywhere in world history, let alone in the history of our country.”

He said that his leader, Imran Khan, was imprisoned over a fake FIR, and his fault was to talk about Pakistan, Kashmir, Pales­tinian Muslims, and Riyasat-i-Madina.

“I demand a free and fair trial for Imran Khan, and he should be released immediately,” he said.

Calls for free and fair trial of Imran Khan; gives seven-day deadline for withdrawal of ‘fabricated cases’ in KP

Mr Gandapur said that he wanted a system where no one, including himself, could take illegal action against anyone. He added that if people want security for their children, sisters, mothers, the elderly, and anyone from any religion, the system must be changed. At the same time, he gave a seven-day deadline for the cancellation of ‘cases without evidence’ in KP.

“I politely ask to withdraw the fabricated cases within a week. [I] give them an opportunity to rectify [themselves], but if you are not wailing to rectify [yourself], then prepare yourself for punishment,” Mr Gandapur warned, adding that on the day he was released from prison and reached home, FIRs were registered against him in nine districts over riots. He said he would surrender if there was any evidence against him.

Mr Gandapur asserted that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had failed to fulfil its constitutional obligations as international organisations, in their reports, said that the Feb 8 polls were not free and fair. He mentioned that they were not allowed to submit nomination papers, and the nomination papers of 80 per cent of their candidates were initially rejected but later accepted following court orders.

“Under the Constitution, the ECP has failed. I demand the chief election commissioner to resign and call on CJP [Justice Isa] to form an independent judicial commission to deliver justice,” Mr Gandapur said.

He urged for an open, free, and fair trial for the former prime minister Mr Khan. He emphasised that his leader’s only fault was revealing a conspiracy [referring to the cipher], stating that his leader had been fighting for the coming generations, and the struggle for ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ would persist.

He expressed frustration, noting that not only was his party denied a level playing field, but it wasn’t even offered ‘the field’ and was deprived of its election symbol. He said that he was ready for a probe on the basis of Form-45 into the allegations of rigging in Feb 8 polls in KP.

Discussing the challenges KP faces, the newly elected KP chief minister stated that his government’s top priority would be maintaining law and order and ensuring the protection of KP residents.

He extended an offer to the opposition benches to collaborate if they were willing. Additionally, he announced the reactivation of the Sehat Card from the first of Ramazan and pledged to establish a commission to address the issues faced by overseas Pakistanis.

He said revenue would be generated from within the province, providing relief to the underprivileged. He also emphasised the collection of revenue from what he referred to as the ‘mafia’ with tourism, mines, and minerals identified as potential sources of income.

Earlier, Mr Gandapur, who won from PK-113 Dera Ismail Khan, secured his position as the province’s 22nd chief minister with an overwhelming majority. He garnered 90 out of a total of 106 votes polled, defeating his rival, PML-N’s Dr Ibadullah, a joint candidate of the opposition parties, who received 16 votes. The JUI-F boycotted the voting.

Dr Ibadullah, the leader of the opposition, also spoke and condemned the harassment of women parliamentarians. He expressed the belief that if political leadership came together, they could find solutions to the problems.

He said the past should be forgotten, and they should move ahead for the development of the.

The session was later prorogued indefinitely.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2024

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