Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has demanded the government dissolve the assemblies, disband the Election Commission and punish all those who rigged the 2013 elections, or else his party will stage the “biggest political protest in the history of the country”.
“We have been asking for the verification of votes in four constituencies, but the rulers turned a deaf ear to our demand for last 14 months. Now, we will end the protest only when the prime minister resigns,” Imran told a news conference in the federal capital on Tuesday.
“Now we demand fresh, transparent elections under an overhauled electoral system. We will only leave D-Chowk when this demand is met,” he said, referring to PTI’s Azadi March scheduled for August 14. He added that the Azadi March, where the party expects a million people will show up, will herald an era of ‘real democracy’ in the country.
Imran alleged that the interim government, the election commission and the judiciary were all part of the game when the polls were rigged and the people were robbed of their mandate. These actors not only rigged the elections but also slammed the doors on justice, he added. “The incumbent government is the product of a fake mandate and we demand not elections, but transparent elections. Wherever verification was carried out, we found the bogus votes.”
The PTI chief vowed that all those involved in rigging would not only be exposed but would be severely punished. “There is no democracy in this country. Pakistan is now at a crossroads and the monarchy of the Sharif brothers will come to an end on August 14,” he said, responding to critics who say he is trying to derail democracy.
He reiterated that the time for negotiation with the government is over and now the decision will be made on the streets. The nation achieved independence on August 14, 1947, but after it was snatched by the rulers, “we will regain the country’s freedom on August 14, 2014”, he added.
It is an established fact that every party – both winners and losers – have pointed fingers at the credibility of the 2013 election. “We had adopted the constitutional and legal way to settle issues, but neither the Election Commission and tribunals, nor the judiciary gave us justice,” he said.
How did the PML-N win double the National Assembly seats it won during the 2008 elections despite the dismal performance of the Punjab government, Imran questioned. From 2002 to 2007, the average growth rate in Punjab was 5.6%, which came down to 2.5% during 2008 and 2013. The average agriculture growth rate was 3.3% during 2002-2007, which fell to 1%.
The PTI chief warned that if the government tried to arrest PTI workers, the party would besiege police stations. “If anybody tries to detain me, all of Pakistan will be paralysed,” he added.
He also cited the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) election report, which revealed that in 35 constituencies, the number of rejected votes was more than the winning votes. PTI Vice-President Shah Mehmood Qureshi, meanwhile, listed all the discrepancies and incidents of rigging in 13 constituencies.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2014.