Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has lamented that people were often misquoted after the media purportedly misquoted him as saying that elections could be held without PTI chief Imran Khan.
“I don’t have knowledge of the unknown about who the upcoming elections will be held with or without,” he said in response to a query while talking to reporters in London on Tuesday. “Such sentences are repeatedly circulated and attempted to be associated with me which is never my intention or my purpose.”
In an interview with the Associated Press last week, the prime minister said that “fair” polls were possible without Imran and his party leaders, who were jailed as part of a state crackdown in the aftermath of violent riots across the country on May 9.
He drew flak from the PTI and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Both reminded the interim premier that it was the duty of the polls overseer body to make decisions on elections.
Kakar lamented about reports where quite often such statements were linked to him about which neither he has any intention or purpose. Sometimes half sentences were picked from an entire paragraph for a lead story by the media.
Kakar interrupted a reporter when he tried to pose a question while he was answering. The interim premier wondered if he should assign any correspondent to have the right interpretation of his responses to international media.
“Unfortunately, people are misquoted and misled,” the prime minister added.
The caretaker prime minister countered the reporter if a British-Pakistani citizen could partake in the electoral process or not.
“No? Why? Because laws do not permit you. And if the law permits any person, whoever political leader they are, then they will take part [in elections] and if it doesn’t, then they won’t.”
He reiterated that the caretaker government had no role in the issue, reminding the people that all such matters were legal, not political or administrative.
“As far as laws and procedures and due process are concerned, I cannot change them and even if I want to, my hands are tied,” Kakar said and added that the Election Commission of Pakistan would fulfil its responsibility and a date would be announced soon.
A section of Kakar’s interview ‘misunderstood and misreported’
Hours before the media talk, the information minister in Pakistan issued a statement in which they lamented that a section of Kakar’s interview was “twisted and misreported”.
“A wrong impression was given that a specific person would not be permitted to contest general elections,” the ministry said in a statement that was shared by PTV News on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The Imran Khan-led party had sought clarification from the interim government when such comments were reported in the media. It added that people would not accept polls without PTI.
“Interim PM Anwaarul Haq Kakar said in the interview that we are not pursuing anyone on a personal vendetta. He said that we will ensure that the law is appropriate. Fair elections can be held without the PTI chairman and his supporters who were involved in vandalism. It was a context of this violence when the country was shaken after the arrest of the PTI chairman on May 9. The interim PM said those who are not involved in illegal activities will run political matters.”
The information ministry added that all political parties, including the PTI, were free to participate in the elections like any other party.
“All political parties have an equal right to contest in general elections under the Constitution and election rules,” he said and added that Kakar’s interview with the Associated Press was misreported.
The interim prime minister was suggesting that participating in the elections was a right, but the legal punishment for the crime was appropriate.