Home Latest News Imran Khan Claims Feb. 8 Elections in Current Scenario Will Only Yield Political Instability

Imran Khan Claims Feb. 8 Elections in Current Scenario Will Only Yield Political Instability

In essay for The Economist, PTI founder reiterates allegations of establishment unwilling to provide his party a ‘playing field’ for polls

by Staff Report

File photo of PTI founder Imran Khan

In a guest article published in The Economist on Thursday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan reiterated his allegations of the establishment “engineering” his ouster from power and claimed general elections in the prevailing scenario would prove a “farce” that would only lead to greater political instability.

According to the British-publication, it received Khan’s missive by “sources” close to the former prime minister, who is currently incarcerated at Adiala Jail. The essay has emerged a little over a month before elections on Feb. 8, as the PTI alleges pre-poll rigging and is currently in court attempting to secure its electoral symbol of a cricket bat, which the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) stripped it off due to a controversy arising over its intra-party polls.

Declaring the current interim governments as “constitutionally illegal” for remaining in power beyond 90 days, Khan claims the public is right to be skeptical of polls on Feb. 8 due to previous delays. “The country’s election commission has been tainted by its bizarre actions,” he writes, accusing it of rejecting the PTI’s candidates for the polls—a misleading assertion, as the aspirants were rejected by returning officers, not the ECP, with many already having been granted right to contest through appeals before Appellate Tribunals.

According to Khan, even if elections occur as scheduled, “the establishment—the Army, security agencies and the civil bureaucracy—is not prepared to provide any playing field at all, let alone a level one, for PTI.” Reiterating allegations of the establishment “engineering” his ouster from power “under pressure from America”—claims repeatedly rejected by both the military and Washington—Khan claims this was due to his pursuit of an “independent foreign policy” and refusal to provide bases for U.S. armed forces in Pakistan.

The PTI leader has also reiterated allegations of his reading of a classified cipher as the U.S. demanding his ouster as prime minister through a vote of no-confidence. “Unfortunately, the establishment had decided I could not be allowed to return to power, so all means of removing me from the political landscape were used,” he claimed, alleging this view was borne out by assassination attempts, arrests and harassment of PTI leaders and workers, and the registration of “almost 200+” cases against him.

“A false-flag operation on May 9, 2023—involving, among other things, arson at military installations falsely blamed on PTI—led to several thousand arrests, abductions and criminal charges within 48 hours,” he alleged, despite multiple forms of evidence on social media indicating the PTI’s involvement in the May 9 riots. “This was followed by many of our leaders being tortured or their families threatened into giving press conferences and engineered television interviews to state that they were leaving the party,” he added.

Maintaining the PTI remained a popular party despite the “engineering,” Khan claimed that the ECP was now using “unlawful tricks” to deny it the right to contest elections, including by not allowing it to campaign freely. He also wrote that he believed PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif had “struck a deal with the establishment” to support his acquittal in corruption cases and facilitate him in the upcoming polls.

“I remain incarcerated, in solitary confinement, on absurd charges that include treason,” he wrote. “Those few of our party’s leaders who remain free and not underground are not allowed to hold even local worker conventions. Where PTI workers manage to gather together, they face brutal police action,” he added.

In the prevailing scenario, maintained the PTI leader, any elections would be a “disaster and a farce” that would only lead to greater political instability. “This, in turn, would further aggravate an already volatile economy,” he wrote, adding the “only viable” way forward for Pakistan was free and fair elections.

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