Thursday, February 23, 2023
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has said that his political opponents are blackmailing the judiciary in their bid to stop the elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from happening within the constitutional limit of 90 days.
"The N-league [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)] is threatening the judiciary. The judiciary is being blackmailed. The reason behind this is to stop the elections from taking place within 90 days," the PTI chief said while addressing the nation via a video link from his Zaman Park residence on Thursday where he has been recuperating since he was injured in an assassination attempt in Wazirabad on November 3.
The former prime minister, whose government was removed through a no-confidence motion last year — a first in Pakistan's history, blamed the PML-N for "buying judges" in the past.
The PTI chief, who has been demanding early polls since his ouster in April, stressed that the elections should not be postponed beyond the constitutional limit.
Khan's statement came a day after Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial took a suo motu notice of an apparent delay in polls and formed a larger bench — headed by himself — to hear the case, the hearing of which began today.
The 9-member judges' bench was constituted two days after President Dr Arif Alvi fixed April 9 as the date for elections to the provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP — the move condemned by the government as "unconstitutional and illegal".
While referring to Article 224 of the Constitution, the PTI chief said that the caretaker governments can’t stay in power for more than 90 days. “Their sole job is conducting free and fair elections.”
The deposed prime minister warned of destruction if elections are not held within the stipulated timeframe of 90 days.
Slamming the PDM-led coalition government, he said: “The longer they stay in power, the country will sink deeper into the swamp”.
Free and fair elections are the sole solution to the political instability in the country, he added.
Turning his guns towards the establishment, the deposed prime minister said: “Those who call themselves neutrals, offered him the PML-N’s chairmanship”.
PTI’s MPAs were forced to switch their loyalties, the deposed premier claimed and paid tribute to former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and his son Moonis Elahi for not bowing down before the situation they faced. “We honoured Elahi as he merged his party with PTI despite the pressure,” Khan said.
The PTI chief heaped the praise on Parvez Elahi two days after the former Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) announced joining the PTI along with 10 of his party's former MPAs.
Efforts are being made to get me disqualified, Imran also claimed, adding, “Those who consider themselves above law assert pressure on the judiciary.”
Talking about the rising inflation and the country’s worsening economic situation, the deposed prime minister said that people are ready to take to the streets. “People in Sri Lanka had set the Prime Minister’s House on fire in a similar situation.”
Last year in July, thousands of protesters stormed the Sri Lankan president's official residence and set the premier’s private residence on fire in Colombo as anger intensified over the country's worst economic crisis.
Khan said that if they do not pick the path of peaceful protest, the nation would head towards “that” path which would bring destruction to the country.
Earlier this week, the National Assembly unanimously approved the government’s much-needed Rs170 billion ‘mini-budget’ — a move mandatory for seeking a $1.1 billion tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.
The country is in dire need of funds as it battles a wrenching economic crisis as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)-held foreign exchange reserves barely cover one month of imports.