Pakistan: Imran Khan questions transparency of polls, calls upcoming elections ‘mother of all selections’

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Islamabad [Pakistan], January 23: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has questioned the transparency of the elections set to be conducted on February 8 and added that the ‘preferential treatment’ meted out to a single political party had turned these polls into the ‘mother of all selections’.
He asked Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members to engage in electioneering with full force. Imran Khan made these remarks during his routine interaction with reporters after the hearing of the cypher case being held at Adiala Jail. However, his interaction was abruptly ended after the jail superintendent, Asad Warraich, asked Khan not to speak to reporters in the makeshift courtroom.
In response, Khan said that it was his right to speak to reporters. However, Warraich reminded him that journalists were only allowed to cover the case proceedings, not highlight his political statements. At this, Imran Khan said he would only speak about his trial. The jail superintendent asked him to get permission from the judge if he wanted to speak to media persons.
Eventually, DIG Prisons Rana Rauf reached the courtroom and asked journalists to leave the premises as the proceedings had already been concluded. The prison staff escorted the media persons out of the court premises while Khan was protesting the ‘censorship’.
Khan also asked Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to hold a protest next Sunday. Notably, Imran Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Zulfi Bukhari, Farah Gogi, Malik Riaz and his son are facing a reference in the National Accountability Bureau since Malik Riaz sent money to purchase the property through money laundering.
On Monday, the special court recorded the statements of four witnesses, including Pakistan’s former foreign secretary Sohail Mehmood and former interior secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar.
As Sohail Mehmood was recording the statement, Shah Mehmood Qureshi snubbed the prosecutor for ‘leading’ the witness. He praised Mehmood and said he was an honest officer.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi objected to the frequent interventions of special prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi. During the hearing, Qureshi continuously criticised the prosecution, while Judge Abual Hasnat Mohammad Zulqarnain was making efforts to bring down the tension.
Qureshi said that the witness was reading from already-written text. However, the prosecutor deliberately was trying to lead him in a certain direction. Judge Zulqarnain stated that the prosecution was doing its job.
At this, Khan said that everyone was “trying to rescue Donald Lu.” The ex-secretary of foreign affairs testified before the court that the then-ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed, sent a cypher regarding his talks with US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Donald Lu to the foreign ministry. He stated that the cypher was decoded and a master copy was sealed and placed in the record.
According to him, copies of the decoded cypher were sent to some authorities, including the Pakistan PM and the foreign minister. The judge adjourned proceedings till Tuesday, however, the counsel for Khan, Mohammad Ali Bukhari, said that he would not be available due to his election campaign.
Notably, the controversy over the cypher started after Imran Khan publically displayed a paper during a rally in Islamabad on March 27, 2022, calling it an “international conspiracy” before a vote of no-confidence led to his government’s ouster in April, 2022.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) started its probe into the cypher case on July 19, 2023 following the previous coalition government announced an official inquiry against Imran Khan and his close associates for violating the OSA, The Express Tribune reported.
Last week, Imran Khan sought a level playing field for PTI in the run-up to general elections and warned that lack of transparency in elections would cause more “instability,” Dawn reported.
Speaking to reporters at Adiala Jail after the hearing of the Toshakhana case, Khan warned that if fair elections were not carried out, then it would result in further “instability and uncertainty.” He further said that PTI candidates “are being harassed and detained” by the authorities to stop them from contesting polls.
Speaking about the crackdown on PTI, Imran Khan said the establishment could not “dismantle the party since it has roots in the masses.” He warned ‘turncoats’ that their politics would end if they left PTI, the report said.
The cricketer-turned-politician accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of deliberately delaying the matter related to the PTI’s intra-party elections to take “stern and sudden action” to deprive the political party of its electoral symbol.

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