PTI to begin election campaign from March 4: Imran Khan

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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Wednesday announced his party will begin its election campaign on March 4 and end its “Jail Bharo Tehreek (court arrest movement)” following the Supreme Court’s decision today.

“After the verdict, we ended ‘Jail Bharo’ movement. We are starting the election campaign on Saturday,” the PTI chief said during an address via video link from Lahore.

The party’s decision came after the Supreme Court, in a split verdict, ruled that elections for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab assemblies should be held within 90 days.

In the verdict, the apex court noted that there are “different aspects and requirements” for holding polls but ruled that one thing that was “absolutely crucial is the timeframe” for the polls.

It added that Constitution envisages two periods for holding polls — 60 days in case the assembly is dissolved after its term is completed and 90 days in case the assembly is dissolved before the expiry of its term.

“Now, we will not let them [ruling parties] run away from the elections. The reason why they’re running away from polls is because people are not with them,” the PTI chief said referring to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — a coalition of nine parties.

The ousted prime minister, whose government was sent home after a no-confidence motion in April last year, said the PDM-led “government feels threatened” by the polls.

Khan added that since his government’s removal, his party has won 30 by-polls out of 37. He further shared his fears that the elections might not eventually take place due to the atmosphere in the country.

Lauding the top court’s decision, the he said: “The Supreme Court has ruled for upholding the rule of law. Had such decisions been made earlier, Pakistan would have been the most prosperous country.”

Extending his support to the country’s top court, Khan said that “the nation stands with you for rule of law”.

Taking to Twitter earlier today, Imran Khan also welcomed the Supreme Court’s judgement.

“We welcome the SC judgement. It was responsibility of SC to uphold Constitution & they have valiantly done that through their judgement today. It is an assertion of Rule of Law in Pak,” he wrote.

The former prime minister said that all the five judges have asserted not delaying elections more than 90 days.

Slamming Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar for his views on the verdict, the PTI chief said: “The law minister’s statement on the Supreme Court verdict is shameful.”

While commenting on the judgement in the election date suo motu case, Tarar had said he believed that the petitions had been rejected by a 4-3 majority. He had added that when the case was first heard on February 23, “Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Yahya Afridi had clearly stated that these are not maintainable.”

“Yesterday, I was summoned to Islamabad,” said Khan while referring to his appearance before multiple Islamabad courts on Tuesday in connection with the different cases filed against him.

The deposed premier received bail from two courts and another issued non-bailable arrest warrants for him. He also managed to secure interim bail from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in another case.

He said a total of 74 cases had been made against him.

“The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) protested outside the ECP during our tenure, how many cases of terrorism did we file against them?” he lamented. “Numerous cases have been filed against me while I’m sitting at home.”

He further censured the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for bringing his “opponents to power”.

Khan also listed the cases against various leaders of the PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

He then referred to the assassination attack on him on November 4, during his rally, and demanded to know why the three people — whom he had listed as suspects — were not questioned, adding that a joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe the matter was not “allowed” to work and that there was a conspiracy afoot for his and senior journalist Arshad Sharif’s murder.