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CEC must resign, early election only solution to country’s crisis: Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Following the land-sliding victory in Punjab by-polls on Sunday, former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Monday urged Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja to resign, claiming that his party won the Punjab by-polls despite the use of state machinery as he insisted that early general elections still were the only solution to the country’s current woes.

ISLAMABAD: PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan addresses the public on July 18, 2022 a day after party won 15 seats in Punjab polls.

In an address today after his party’s triumph in the Punjab by-elections, he thanked youngsters and women who came out in large quantities to vote for PTI. “I believe this is the moment in the history of Pakistan that we should be thankful for because the nation has awakened,” Imran remarked. “People have finally understood the ideology of Pakistan.”

The ex-premier, however, stressed that Pakistan was under an economic crisis that was fueled by the political mess in the country. “Our reserves have shrunk by half since PML-N came to power. Despite the agreement with IMF (International Monetary Fund) in sight, our rupee is declining.”

He highlighted that amid these crises, the only way out was free and fair elections. But, Imran contended, those elections should not be conducted the way by-elections in Punjab were held.

“[During the by-polls] they used all the tactics to defeat us. Police threatened our people. Officers acted as workers of PML-N,” he claimed, adding that Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz had no authority to use the police like that.

“I am disappointed in the chief election commissioner. How could he let all this happen? He is not competent to run [the Election Commission of Pakistan]. He should resign.”

Imran also said that there were four million deceased voters included in the electoral rolls, claiming that the CEC tried his best to turn the polls in favour of the PML-N. “We do not have an inch of trust on the CEC,” he pointed out, citing the example of Senate elections in 2021 in which Imran said evidence of bribery was seen.

“In Sindh’s LG (local government) elections, 15 per cent of PPP candidates won unopposed, nobody investigated it,” he recalled. “During the Daska polls, the returning officer opened all the votes against PTI. He made us lose those elections.”

At the outset of his speech today, the PTI leader said that he was elated today because the nation had finally started questioning slavery. “We have rejected slavery and we will now become a nation with the grace of God.”

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Referring to the incumbent government, he said that all the leaders had their money stashed abroad. “They say they are ready to die Pakistan but spend vacations overseas,” he highlighted.

But, he continued, the way women and youngsters came out last night, they had proven that “we are finally in the Naya Pakistan”.

Imran recalled that during his tenure an “artificial political crisis” was created.

“The government was running smoothly and there’s proof of it in the economic survey. It said that after 17 years, our growth rate increased and all the indicators showed we were progressing.”

He went on that during the five-year government of PML-N, Pakistan did not see a rise in exports. “They left huge fiscal deficits in both their terms. They came to power only to get cases against them quashed. They got bills passed from the assembly. “But god willing, I will challenge all this in the Supreme Court tomorrow (Tuesday),” the former PM vowed.

His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won 15, with the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) of current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif taking four, and one going to an independent.

Court grants interim bail to Imran Khan

A district and sessions court in Islamabad on Monday granted pre-arrest bail to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chair Imran Khan in five cases of arson and vandalism lodged after the protest march.

Khan held a brief long march in the last week of May to destabilise Shehbaz Sharif’s then a month-old coalition government and demand fresh elections.

During the proceedings, Additional District and Sessions Judge (East) Abdul Ghafoor Kakar ordered the former prime minister to submit a surety bond worth Rs5,000 in each case.

His lawyer Babar Awan argued the bail request before the court. The court also accepted Khan’s request for exemption from an in-person appearance.

Hours after Khan ended his demonstrative march on March 26, Islamabad police registered a slew of cases against Khan in stations across the capital city.

Earlier, a separate court in Islamabad also exempted Khan from personal appearance and extended his interim bail in 15 cases, again involving claims of arson and vandalism, until July 18.

His attorney, Awan, appeared on his behalf and informed the court that the former prime minister could not attend the hearing due to threats to his life.