Imran Khan decries lack of playing field for PTI

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Imran Khan's nomination papers from Lahore rejected

ISLAMABAD: As the country inches closer to a decisive general election next month, former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan has lamented the lack of playing field for his party, alleging that the establishment is not ready to provide one.

He added that the polls conducted in such circumstances would be “farce”.

The former prime minister’s statement was made in an article written for a British publication, The Economist, which he has written amid his incarceration in the Adiala jail.

“The manner in which I and my party have been targeted since a farcical vote of no confidence in April 2022 has made one thing clear: 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.”

Alleging that the establishment had “engineered” the removal of his government “under pressure from America”, the former prime minister contends this is because the US was “becoming agitated with my push for an independent foreign policy and my refusal to provide bases for its armed forces.”

Imran has stuck to his cipher narrative in the piece, writing that “I believe that the American official’s message was to the effect of: pull the plug on Khan’s prime ministership through a vote of no confidence, or else.” He adds that “within weeks our government was toppled” and he discovered that former COAS Gen Bajwa had “been working on our allies and parliamentary backbenchers for several months to move against us.”

The Economist has added a disclaimer at the end of the article regarding this assertion, saying that both the Pakistani government and the US State Department “deny Mr Khan’s allegations of American interference in Pakistani politics.”

According to Khan, the caretaker governments at the federal level and provincial levels are “constitutionally illegal”. On the February 8 elections, he is of the view that the people are “sceptical” about the election taking place “having been denied the same in two provinces.”

The article also talks about the popularity amassed by the PTI post-Imran’s ouster: “People flocked onto the streets to protest against this regime change, and in the next few months the PTI won 28 out of 37 by-elections.” Imran writes that this popularity “unnerved” those who had ousted him.

Imran has written that the May 9, 2023 incident was a “false-flag operation” that was “falsely blamed on [the] PTI”, adding that “the speed showed it was pre-planned.”

The article also says that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif has “struck a deal with the establishment whereby it will support his acquittal and throw its weight behind him in the upcoming elections.”

Reiterating that the PTI is not being allowed to campaign freely, Khan writes that he remains “incarcerated, in solitary confinement, on absurd charges that include treason. Those few of our party’s leaders who remain free and not underground are not allowed to hold even local worker conventions.”

According to Imran, even if elections were held in such a situation they would be “a disaster and a farce”.