Last week, the ECP announced that general elections will be conducted by the end of January 2024.
ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar asserts that free and fair elections can be held even without Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, who is serving a three-year sentence in the Attock Jail for corruption.
Last week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) declared that general elections would be conducted by the end of January 2024.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Kakar stated, “Free and fair elections can be held without [Imran] Khan or hundreds of members of his party who are imprisoned for illegal activities such as arson and vandalism.”
The arrest of the ousted prime minister in the £190 million settlement case on May 9 sparked widespread unrest throughout the nation. Hundreds of PTI employees and senior leaders were incarcerated for their participation in violence and attacks on military installations.
In response to a query, Kakar stated that the PTI activists currently serving jail time were involved in arson, vandalism, and other illegal activities.
“Thousands of PTI activists who have not engaged in illegal activities will be eligible to vote in the upcoming elections,” he added. When asked if there is a belief that the military will manipulate the impending elections to prevent the PTI from regaining power, the caretaker prime minister responded, “I find that to be absurd.”
“The ECP, not the military, will conduct the elections,” he said, adding that the caretaker government will supervise and support the electoral process.
Kakar stated that the current Chief Election Commissioner, Sikandar Sultan Raja, was appointed by Imran Khan and questioned, “Why would he turn in any sense of the word against him?”
To another query, the premier said, “We are not pursuing anyone on a personal vendetta.” He cautioned, however, that if the PTI chairman or any other politician violates the rules and regulations, they will be prosecuted.
PM Kakar further said he would not interfere with the verdicts by the courts, adding that the judiciary should also not be used “as a tool for any political ends”.
A spokesperson for the former ruling party responded vehemently to the Prime Minister’s statement regarding the upcoming general elections by stating, “The general election without the PTI or Imran Khan will be unconstitutional and unethical.”
The spokesperson asserted that the PTI is the country’s largest political party and that Khan, who was deposed by a parliamentary vote in April of last year, is the most popular leader.
The former spokesman for the ruling party stated that the caretaker premier’s remarks reflected the insensitivity of the state’s structure and demanded that PM Kakar promptly clarify his remarks. The PTI spokesperson warned that such elections will not be accepted by the public. He added that the caretaker prime minister should distance his administration from the “evil schemes.”