ISLAMABAD - PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday said the entire Pakistan has lost trust in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and demanded its reconstitution as an ‘independent and strong’ electoral body.
Exerting more pressure on the already unnerved PML-N-led federal government through his party’s big rally in Islamabad, he announced continuing with his protest rallies against election rigging across the country and stage protest every Friday in front of the ECP building until his party’s demands are met.
While presenting his nine-point charter of demand while leading a big rally of his party workers on the eve of first anniversary of 2013 general elections, Imran Khan demanded dissolution of the ECP and sought resignation of all its members. In his D-Chowk speech, he also demanded bringing sweeping electoral reforms and punishment to those who directed or played any role in rigging of the last general elections.
Severely criticising the PML-N government’s fiscal policies as well as its failure to overcome loadshedding, the PTI chief at the same time criticised Geo TV alleging the media group was taking foreign funding to set agenda in Pakistan.
Dressed in black shalwar kameez and wrapping his party flag around his shoulders, Khan warned the government that this ‘tsunami’ will go on until justice served to his party. He said they would continue holding protest sit-ins.
“The tsunami will go to Faisalabad where we will hold rally on May 23 and there we will announce our next venue of protest; besides it, the party will protest every Friday in front of the Election Commission,” he said.
“We want justice, real democracy and transparent election process and want to bring to justice those culprits who hijacked the people’s mandate,” Khan said, before a charged crowd comprising people from all walks of life, including women and children.
Presenting his charter of demands, Imran Khan said, “We need new election commission for new Pakistan as people have lost their confidence in the existing one.” He said the commission should be independent and returning officers should be made accountable before it.
He demanded the Supreme Court order thumb impression verification in at least four NA constituencies. “Why PML-N is frightened to do so if the match was not fixed,” he said, adding that they waited for a year but could not get justice... “They (PML-N rulers) are saying democracy was in danger (because of PTI rally) and I would say that democracy is in danger due to election rigging.”
“I ask you whether those who hijacked the mandate of the people should not be punished,” he questioned the crowd and then replied himself that as long as they would not be punished, transparent elections were not possible in Pakistan.
Criticising the returning officers, he said they should be asked for their role in rigging. “That RO should be ashamed of himself who announced result of his party candidate Hamid Zaman,” he said, and questioned whether he was not part of match fixing, informing the crowed that now the same person was going to become a judge.
The PTI chief demanded that reforms should be brought in electoral process and electronic voting machines and biometric system should be introduced to bring transparency. “PTI will introduce this system at least in local government elections,” he vowed. Presenting another demand, he said that the overseas Pakistanis should be given the right to vote by implementing SC decision as they send remittances to the country.
While criticising senior TV anchor and former caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi, Imran Khan said that impartial people should be nominated in the future caretaker set-up and it should be made mandatory that as a step towards genuine neutral caretakers, they must not be permitted to hold any public office for 2 years after their serving as caretakers.
“Such person should not come into caretaker set-up who after 35 punctures becomes PCB chairman. Such person then gives contract to the TV channel whose employee they are,” he said about Najam Sethi.
Lastly, he said that they would invite all parties which want electoral reforms with the purpose to bring about comprehensive electoral reforms.
Thanking his workers for joining the rally “despite hurdles created by the government”, Imran Khan condemned his rival Nawaz Sharif, the PM, and said, “I know those brought up in the nursery of military dictators cannot stop my workers.”
He said, “Today I am compelled to praise Asif Ali Zardari after seeing PML-N’s actions.”
Vowing his resolve to make a new Pakistan, he said those involved in rigging and corruption could not perform well in assemblies. The former NAB chairman had said daily corruption in Pakistan was to the tune of Rs12 billion, and those involved in rigging could not control corruption, Imran added.
He said the Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus project was being completed with Rs40 billion. He said the ADB had asked to complete the project in Rs4 billion.
“You paid Rs 500 billion in circular debt, the tariff of electricity was increased in 10 days to the extent that the last government did not increase even in five years. Another Rs500 billion circular debt is hovering over our heads,” he said, adding that there was no decrease in loadshedding despite these measures. He said all this was due to electricity theft.
The PTI chief said that foreign investment could not come to Pakistan, as PM Nawaz Sharif and CM Shahbaz Sharif were big investors in the UK. “How can you expect from others to bring investment to Pakistan when your own leadership is investing in foreign countries? The major investment of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s sons was also in Dubai,” Imran said.
He came down hard on the government for not bringing back the looted money from foreign banks, including Swiss banks. “The finance minister says Rs200 billion dollars of Pakistan were lying in foreign banks, we need not give taxes for 10 years if this money be brought back in the country.”
Paying homage to senior TV anchor Hamid Mir and other journalists, he said, “I, being an elected member has the right to ask Mir Shakeelur Rehman from where his channel was getting money to set agenda in Pakistan. I will face you (Mir Shakeel) and see how long you will use your media group against me.”
Imran alleged that the group was getting money from the US and the UK. “What you did with the ISI and army, no one can do... I am also supporter of peace but on the one side is slogan of Aman Ki Asha and on the other there is war on the western border.”