Candidates to lose party tickets if they don’t launch campaign, warns Imran

Former prime minister Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks with Reuters during an interview, in Lahore, Pakistan March 17, 2023. — Reuters
Former prime minister Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks with Reuters during an interview, in Lahore, Pakistan March 17, 2023. — Reuters
  • Khan says party members not being allowed to hold campaigns.
  • “Elections should be held on February 8 anyway,” he adds.
  • Qureshi thanks Javed Hashmi for speaking the truth.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan has warned his party candidates to launch their election campaigns peacefully or their tickets to contest the February 8 elections will be snatched, The News reported Wednesday. 

The former prime minister, who is incarcerated in Adiala jail, said that the tickets of candidates who do not come out for the election campaign from Sunday would be replaced with others.

He made these comments while talking to the media persons informally in the Adiala jail courtroom. 

The party’s founder was jailed in May last year and its electoral ‘bat’ symbol — a major voter driving force was taken away this month. Furthermore, the party — PTI-Nazriati — with which it sought an alliance also backtracked from its commitment.

However, the PTI has vowed not to boycott the polls and run without its iconic electoral symbol. Since the ‘bat’ symbol has been taken away, all its candidates will be running with different signs.

Khan further said that the former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States and a witness in the cipher case, Asad Majeed, had recommended sending a demarche to an official meeting after the diplomatic cable was received.

“Shah Mahmood Qureshi found the cipher by chance. It was for General (retd) Bajwa. Every effort was made to suppress the cipher. My government was overthrown three weeks after it. If there was no such thing in the cipher, why the demarche was sent? Does anyone send it to America?” he added.

He claimed that in October 2021, General (retd) Bajwa had hired Husain Haqqani — former Pakistan’s ambassador to the US — without his knowledge. He alleged: “Haqqani was given $35,000. He tweeted that Imran is against America while Bajwa is in its favour.”

The former premier said his party members were not being allowed to hold election campaigns. “Elections should be held on February 8 anyway,” he added.

Meanwhile, PTI senior leader Qureshi said that he wanted to thank senior politician Javed Hashmi for speaking the truth.

Hashmi announced stepping out of the election race and withdrawing in favour of PTI-backed Aamir Dogar, who will contest the February 8 polls from the NA-149 constituency.

“I am throwing my political weight behind the Tehreek-e-Insaf and Imran Khan and withdrawing from the elections,” Hashmi, who has been a part of the PTI and its arch-rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Qureshi said that the cipher was only for the secretary to see and the National Security Committee (NSC) accepted political interference.

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