Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday reiterated his accusations of ‘bias’ against Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and warned of civil unrest if the incumbent government attempted to prevent Pervaiz Elahi from being elected Punjab chief minister.
Addressing party workers in a televised speech, he said the organizers of the Punjab by-elections—which his party secured 15 of 20 seats in—should be punished. Reiterating his accusations of CEC Raja being “biased,” he alleged he had never seen such a “dishonest” election commissioner before.
“We [PTI] continued lodging complaints about rigging but the ECP did not pay heed,” he said. “We will not contest the general elections under the leadership of the incumbent chief election commissioner,” he claimed, adding that if the “biggest political party” of the country doesn’t trust the CEC, he should reign.
The ousted prime minister also claimed that the ECP had opposed the adoption of electronic voting machines for elections because it would reduce rigging. Criticizing the ECP’s decision to postpone local body elections in Karachi and Hyderabad due to a forecast of torrential rains, Khan questioned why a similar request for the local government polls in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had been rejected. This is not entirely accurate: the second phase of the local body polls in the province was also delayed.
Khan alleged the CEC of being biased for ordering re-polling in the Daska by-elections last year, claiming this had been done to ensure the PTI’s defeat. The Daska by-election has widely been acknowledged to have been conducted under massive rigging by the then-ruling PTI government.
“If people’s mandate is stolen in the Punjab Assembly tomorrow during the chief minister election, then I am warning that the country would head towards a condition like Sri Lanka and after that, whatever happens, it would not be my responsibility,” warned Khan, threatening civil unrest if Pervaiz Elahi were not elected the chief minister. “They [public] will not sit silently,” he added.
The ousted premier also warned that after the PTI came into power in Punjab, it would “punish” anyone who had “wronged” PTI workers, supporters and leaders. He, similarly, accused the leaders of the major parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement—PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari, JUIF’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman; and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif—of trying to “buy” the votes of PTI lawmakers.
Foreign funding woes
Reacting to the PTI chairman’s speech, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb accused him of targeting the CEC to secure a favorable verdict in the long-pending “foreign funding” case. “Imran Khan is venting his anger on CEC,” she said in a statement. “However, Sikandar Sultan is not like NAB’s ex-chairman Javed Iqbal, who would be threatened and blackmailed,” she said, adding that Khan’s claims of horse-trading in the Punjab Assembly marked him as a liar, hypocrite and thief.
“Imran used the money to steal votes in the election of 2018 and then in the elections of Senate, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Daska in Punjab,” she said, adding that Khan’s “political business” was to buy loyalties.
The minister also claimed that Khan’s threats of a “reaction” from the public indicated he wanted a civil war in the country.