PM says fair polls can be held even minus Imran

Govt not pursuing anyone on a personal vendetta

Kakar says thousands of PTI activists who did not engage in unlawful activities can partake in elections n It’s absolutely absurd to think about army role in manipulating election results n Conducting polls ECP’s assignment.

NEW YORK  -  Caretaker Prime Minister An­waar-ul-Haq Kakar has said that free and fair election can be held in Pakistan even with­out PTI chief Imran Khan, who is currently serving a three-year sentence in Attock jail in the Toshakhana corruption case.

“Free and fair elections can take place without [Imran] Khan or hundreds of members of his party who are jailed because they engaged in unlawful activi­ties including vandalism and ar­son,” said Kakar in an interview with the Associated Press yes­terday. The May 9 riots were trig­gered almost across the country after deposed prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest in the £190 million settlement case. Hun­dreds of PTI workers and se­nior leaders were put behind the bars for their involvement in violence and attacks on military in­stallations.

Last week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that general elec­tions will occur by the end of January 2024. Responding to a question, PM Kakar said that those PTI activists, who are serv­ing jail sentences, were involved in arson attacks, vandalism and other illegal activities.

“Thousands of PTI activists who did not engage in unlawful activities can partake in the up­coming elections,” he added. 

ulations, then they would be dealt with according to the law. PM Kakar further said he would not interfere with the verdicts by the courts, adding that the ju­diciary should also not be used “as a tool for any po­litical ends.” Talking about PTI allegations pertaining to “threats to democracy” and “de facto military rule in Pakistan”, the PM said the claims were “part and par­cel of our political culture”.

He said his government’s working relationship with the military was “very smooth” as well as “very open and candid”.

According to PM Kakar, the solution was to grad­ually improve the perfor­mance of the civilian in­stitutions “rather than weakening the current mil­itary organisation, because that’s not going to solve any of our problems.”

The premier also stated that when the ECP would announce the exact date for elections, his government would provide all kinds of financial, security and oth­er assistance for the polls.

Meanwhile, strongly react­ing to the PM’s statement on the upcoming general elec­tions, the PTI has said that elections sans Imran Khan will be ‘unconstitutional’: A PTI spokesperson of the for­mer ruling party said: “The general elections without the PTI or Imran Khan will be unconstitutional and un­ethical.” The spokesperson claimed that the PTI is the largest political party and Khan — who was removed from power as prime min­ister via a parliamentary vote in April last year — is the most popular leader in the country. He further said that the caretaker premier should separate his govern­ment from the “evil designs”.

“I think it is absolutely absurd,” said the PM when asked if there is a view that the military is go­ing to manipulate the upcoming elections to make sure that the PTI does not return to power.

He said that the ECP is going to conduct the elections, not the military,” he said, adding that there is also the caretaker gov­ernment to monitor and support the electoral process.

The current Chief Election Commissioner Sikarnder Sul­tan Raja was appointed by Im­ran Khan, Kakar said and asked, “Why would he turn in any sense of the word against him?”

To another question, the pre­mier said, “We are not pursuing anyone on a personal vendetta.” He, however, warned that if the PTI chairman or any other poli­tician violates the rules and reg­

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt