Fair elections can take place without PTI chief Imran Khan or several party members, who are in jail on accusations of being part of a violent mob that attacked state buildings and military installations following Khan’s first arrest on May 9, Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has said.
“Thousands of people in Khan’s party who didn’t engage in unlawful activities, will be running the political process, they will be participating in the elections,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press which was published on Sunday.
Kakar, who is in the United States to attend the UN General Assembly session, said this against the backdrop of the polls overseer body’s announcement of the decision to hold the general elections in January 2024.
PTI Chairman Khan is incarcerated in Attock Jail in a case related to the diplomatic cipher that went missing from his possession. According to Khan, it was proof of his claim that the US was behind his ouster from the office of prime minister in April 2022.
When asked, the interim prime minister refused that he would interfere with the court decisions to overturn the PTI chief’s conviction. He was of the view that the judiciary should not used for political benefits.
“We are not pursuing anyone on a personal vendetta,” Kakar said, “but yes, we will ensure that the law is appropriate. Anyone, be it Imran Khan or any other politician who violates, in terms of their political behavior, the laws of the country, then the restoration of the law has to be ensured. We cannot equate that with … political discrimination.”
He reiterated that the government would provide all the assistance to the Election Commission of Pakistan for holding elections.
He ruled out the impression that the military would tamper with the election results to ensure that Khan was out of the election race.
In the recent past, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has called for a “level-playing field” for all political parties.
Kakar denied allegations that he had close ties with the military. He had made a similar statement in an interview with Aaj News earlier this month where he said that a “love and hate relationship” continues Pakistan’s politics.
‘People won’t accept elections with Khan, PTI’
In a strong worded statement, the PTI said that the people won’t accept elections without Khan and their party leaders.
“The caretaker prime minister’s statement is a manifestation of the insensitivity found in the state structure regarding the constitution, democracy and national interests,” the party said in a statement shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday.
The statement claimed that the PTI was the largest political party of Pakistan and the only representative political party at the federal level.
“According to all criteria of popularity, Imran Khan is the most popular political leader of the country.”
The party said that the caretaker PM should know that any election conducted without the involvement of Khan or PTI would be “unconstitutional, illegal and immoral” that the people would never accept.
“The results of artificial, undemocratic and unconstitutional methods of excluding political leadership and parties with exceptional popular support are always disastrous.”
Kakar should explain his statement immediately, it said and demanded that the caretaker prime minister should dissociate his government from the alleged plans of segregation.