ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairperson Imran Khan has called for a complete audit of votes from the 2013 general elections, altering the party’s original demand for thumbprint verification of votes in four constituencies only.
The government has put the lives of personnel of the armed forces on the line as it shifted the venue of Independence Day celebrations from Kakul, Abbottabad, to D-Chowk in Islamabad, Imran told a news conference on Tuesday. The change in venue is part of an effort to spark a clash between the PTI and the armed forces, he claimed.
The PTI chief reiterated his party’s decision to hold a rally on August 14, saying he will share the news of ‘haqiqi azaadi’ (real freedom) on the day. Claiming that the judiciary, election tribunals and the Election Commission of Pakistan are complicit in electoral fraud, he said there is “no harm in holding midterm elections”. “General Ziaul Haq came to power because elections were rigged,” he added.
Citing the example of the recently concluded Afghan presidential elections, Imran said that a complete audit of votes was being carried out in the country due to allegations of rigging by contender Dr Abdullah Abdullah. In comparison, he said, “It has been 14 months since the elections were held but no action has been taken against the PTI’s repeated demands.”
The party leader alleged that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) government removed National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) chief Tariq Malik from office in order to place its own official there in order to facilitate the alleged rigging.
Three people – Colonel Khalid, Zeeshan Butt and Junaid – have been tampering with votes sent to NADRA for verification, Khan said. He added that he would provide evidence against the three men and the involvement of institutions, individuals and cells within the Lahore High Court on August 14.
He added that the ‘Azaadi march’ will be a peaceful one and will kick off in Lahore before making its way to Islamabad, reaching the capital in the evening. “If anyone tries to stop the rally, they will be responsible for the consequences,” he said. Referring to the clash between police officials and Pakistan Awami Tehreek members in Lahore last month, he said the attacks were carried out by ‘the Sharif family’s servants’.
Calls for PM’s resignation
Imran said he was pleased with former president Asif Ali Zardari’s recent statements regarding the prime minister’s interference in provincial affairs. “Zardari’s tenure was better than the Sharifs’,” he said.
Criticising the ‘rule of one family’, the PTI chief called for the prime minister’s resignation over the ‘mistreatment of internally displaced persons (IDPs)’ during Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Imran also demanded the resignations of Shahbaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif, Abid Sher Ali and Ishaq Dar
“The prime minister said he would take me into confidence before the operation,” Imran said, adding that instead, he found out about the operation through news channels. The federal government did not allow the PTI-led government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to adequately prepare for the influx of IDPs, he added.
He urged the prime minister to provide Rs20 billion to the K-P government to provide adequate facilities. Referring to Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif’s visit to Bannu on June 14, the PTI chief said that instead of distributing money amongst the IDPs himself, Shahbaz should have given the money to the K-P government.
Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch, the focal person to handle IDPs issues, said that up to Rs30 billion can be released for the IDPs but the PTI’s allegations of inadequate relief efforts are ‘general’ and do not pinpoint specific areas where the government is lacking.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2014.