London: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Sunday said that conducting "fair" elections is feasible even in the absence of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who is currently incarcerated in a corruption case, along with several other PTI leaders detained following violent unrest in the country on May 9.
The Prime Minister also clarified that the thousands of PTI members who were not involved in “unlawful activities” would play a significant role in the political process and actively participate in the upcoming elections.
These remarks by the Prime Minister come shortly after the Election Commission of Pakistan officially announced that elections in the country are scheduled for January of the following year. Leading political parties in Pakistan commenced preparations for the upcoming elections.
During an interview with the Associated Press over the weekend, PM Kakar dismissed the notion of the military establishment manipulating election outcomes to prevent the PTI from winning, deeming it “absolutely absurd”. He emphasized that the Election Commission of Pakistan would oversee the voting process and noted that the chief election commissioner had been appointed by Imran Khan himself, making any bias highly unlikely.
When questioned about whether he would recommend the judiciary to overturn Imran's conviction and allow him to run in the elections, the Prime Minister emphasized that he would not interfere with judicial decisions and stressed that the judiciary should not be exploited “as a tool for any political agenda”.
PM Kakar stated, “We are not pursuing anyone out of personal animosity, but we will ensure that the law is upheld. Whether it's Imran Khan or any other politician who violates the country's laws through their political conduct, we must ensure the restoration of the law. This should not be equated with political discrimination,”.
Regarding PTI's allegations of "threats to democracy" and "de facto military rule in Pakistan," the Prime Minister regarded these claims as commonplace in Pakistan's political landscape. He emphasized that his government maintains a smooth and transparent working relationship with the military.
While acknowledging the challenges in civil-military relations, PM Kakar believed that the solution lay in gradually enhancing the performance of civilian institutions rather than weakening the existing military structure, as it would not address the nation's problems effectively.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister pledged that his government would provide comprehensive support, including financial, security, and other assistance, once the Election Commission announces the precise date for the elections.
In response to the Prime Minister's statements, the PTI issued a statement declaring any elections without Imran Khan as "unacceptable, unlawful, and unconstitutional." They criticized the caretaker Prime Minister's insensitivity toward the Constitution, democracy, and national interests.
The PTI asserted that they are the largest political party in Pakistan and Imran Khan is the country's most popular leader. They demanded an immediate explanation from PM Kakar and urged him to disassociate his government from any divisive plans.
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