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Pakistan interim PM Kakar’s remarks about next general elections spark controversy



ISLAMABAD – Amid the worsening political turmoil and deteriorating economic conditions in the country, Pakistan Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Kakar’s latest remarks about the next general elections have sparked another controversy. 

Speaking to a foreign wire service, Kakar said that fair elections could be held without jailed former prime minister Imran Khan and hundreds of incarcerated leaders of his political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). 

“Thousands of people in Khan’s party who didn’t engage in unlawful activities will be running the political process. They will be participating in the elections,” he said in an interview published on Sunday.

Kakar, who is in the United States to attend the UN General Assembly session, said this days after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that general elections in the country would be held in the last week of January 2024.

PTI Chairman Khan is incarcerated in Attock Jail in a case related to the diplomatic cipher that allegedly went missing from his possession. According to Khan, it was proof of his claim that the US was behind his ouster from the office of prime minister in April 2022.

When asked, the interim prime minister refused that he would interfere with the court decisions to overturn the PTI chief’s conviction. He was of the view that the judiciary should not be used for political benefits.

“We are not pursuing anyone on a personal vendetta,” Kakar said, “but yes, we will ensure that the law is appropriate. Anyone, be it Imran Khan or any other politician who violates, in terms of their political behavior, the laws of the country, then the restoration of the law has to be ensured. We cannot equate that with … political discrimination.”

He reiterated that the government would provide all the assistance to the Election Commission of Pakistan for holding elections. He ruled out the impression that the military would tamper with the election results to ensure that Khan was out of the election race.

In the recent past, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has called for a “level-playing field” for all political parties.

In a strong worded statement, the PTI said that people won’t accept elections without Khan and his party leaders.

“The caretaker prime minister’s statement is a manifestation of the insensitivity found in the state structure regarding the constitution, democracy and national interests,” the party said in a statement shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday.

The statement said the PTI was the largest political party of Pakistan and the only representative political party at the federal level. “According to all criteria of popularity, Imran Khan is the most popular political leader of the country.”

The party said the caretaker PM should know that any election conducted without the involvement of Khan or PTI would be “unconstitutional, illegal and immoral” that the people would never accept.

“The results of artificial, undemocratic and unconstitutional methods of excluding political leadership and parties with exceptional popular support are always disastrous.”

Kakar should explain his statement immediately, it said and demanded that the caretaker prime minister should dissociate his government from the alleged plans of segregation.





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