There has been no move to ban the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from contesting upcoming general elections, interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar announced on Tuesday, adding politicians affiliated with the party are free to participate in polls.
“Loyalists of [PTI chief] Imran Khan will take part in elections, and also those who left him,” he told journalists in Lahore. “There has been no move in place to ban the PTI,” he added to questions about the PTI facing hurdles to participate in the electoral process. To another question on whether the PTI’s electoral symbol—a cricket bat—would be on ballot papers, Kakar said he did not see why not.
“So far the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has not placed any ban on the PTI, so how come the caretakers can commit such illegality?” he responded. “It is the ECP’s mandate whether to allow the PTI symbol [on ballot paper] or not. Currently, there is no such proposal under consideration,” he added.
To another question on parties such as the PTI and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) alleging the lack of a “level playing field,” Kakar said the interim government’s policy was to ensure all registered parties had equal rights and opportunity in the upcoming elections. When asked about the ECP’s delay in announcing a date for polls, he said this was the “exclusive mandate” of the electoral body and the interim government had no role in determining it.
On the upcoming second round of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the $3 billion bailout inked earlier this year, the caretaker said a delegation of the global lender would visit Pakistan this week and the government was fully prepared for it. “Hopefully the talks on the second tranche of IMF will be concluded successfully,” he added.
To a question on inflation, Kakar said it was “unfair” to say there had been no decline in its monthly rate. Claiming he had received reports of a decline in the prices of essential commodities, he attributed this to the rupee’s appreciation against the U.S. dollar and a decrease in the price of petroleum products.
To a question on the government’s repatriation plan for illegally residing foreigners, he stressed that the new policy was only targeting undocumented migrants and refugees had nothing to fear. He further said the restrictions imposed on Afghan transit trade had played a role in the country’s economic revival. He said any illegal migrant who was voluntarily leaving the country was free to return at any point with valid documentation.
To questions on whether he expected the next government to continue the policies enacted by the interim rulers, Kakar said he hoped all “rational” policies would be taken forward, but accepted that some initiatives could be set aside.
The interim prime minister also condemned the Israeli atrocities in Gaza and demanded an immediate end to the Middle Eastern conflict.