PTI lawmakers won’t return to parliament, says Imran

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan announced on Sunday that his party’s legislators would not re­­turn to parliament this term, even if a proposed judicial commission declared the 2013 general elections to be rigging-free.

“If the proposed judicial commission says no rigging took place — which I don’t believe — even then we won’t go back to the National Assembly and will prepare for the next elections,” Mr Khan said, indicating that he would not be prepared to accept the commission’s verdict if it came out in the government’s favour.

Accepting the appointment of retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan as the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Mr Khan told reporters at his Bani Gala residence that the government should be prepared to face ‘dire consequences’ if it tried to block the party’s public meeting in Faisalabad on Monday.

As part of his ‘Plan C’, Mr Khan announced that he would shut down Faisalabad to protest against the government’s continued stonewalling. He plans to take this protest next to Karachi and Lahore.

This latest statement comes only a few weeks after Mr Khan withdrew his demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Just a few days ago, at his party’s rally in Islamabad on Nov 30, he called upon the PM to continue in office while the commission completed its work. Mr Khan had said that the PTI would continue its sit-in on D-Chowk for this time and if the inquiry vindicated him, then the PM would have to step down.


Three former parliamentarians from Punjab join PTI

During Mr Khan’s press conference on Sunday, three former legislators from Punjab announced their decision to join the PTI, including Sardar Saifuddin Khosa, who previously defected from the PML-N to the PPP in 2013; former PPP MNA Niaz Khan Jakhar and former defence production minister, Sardar Bahadur Khan Sihar of the PML-Q.

CEC’s appointment

Expressing confidence in the newly-appointed Justice Sardar Raza Khan, Mr Khan said: “We have no objection to the present CEC, but now all members of the commission should resign and a new commission should be formed under him.”

Mr Khan insisted that if the previous elections were not audited, it would encourage rigging in the elections to come.

Faisalabad shutdown

Warning the government against trying to stop his party from going ahead with its plans to shut down Faisalabad, he said, “The situation will become worse for the government if the Faisalabad demonstration is stopped.”

The PTI chief claimed he could shut down the entire country, saying PTI had the street power necessary to do so.

He urged people from all walks of life to come out of their homes and attend PTI’s public meeting in Faisalabad on Monday. “If the traders of Faisalabad believe the country is moving in the right direction, they should keep their businesses open tomorrow,” he said, adding that the city’s lawyers and transporters had already announced their support for the PTI.

Govt-PTI talks

Mr Khan demanded that the government should resume dialogue from where they had stalled, adding that the government should form a judicial commission without any more delays so that alleged rigging in the polls could be investigated. “If the government is sincere in resolving the issue, it can form the commission within a week,” he said.

Mr Khan said that before talks were halted, the ruling party had agreed to the formation of an independent commission and a joint investigation team (JIT) for the audit of the last general elections.

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