LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has warned the ruling coalition and its “handlers” that if they defer elections in Punjab till after the federal budget, there will be chaos in the country.
“If the rulers defy the Supreme Court’s orders for holding elections [for the Punjab Assembly] on May 14 and violate the Constitution, there will be lawlessness in the country,” the former prime minister said on Monday while addressing a rally in the provincial capital.
“We will resort to street agitations until the Constitution and the rule of law are restored,” he added.
Imran, whose party was ousted from power in April last year as a result of a vote of no confidence, led the rally that marched from Lahore’s Liberty Chowk to Nasir Bagh.
Hundreds of PTI workers and supporters took part in the event organised to commemorate International Workers’ Day and to express solidarity with the Supreme Court.
The country’s apex court on April 4 ordered the polls supervisory authority—the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) — to hold elections for the Punjab Assembly on May 14. Parliament, however, refused to release funds for elections as it passed a resolution against the top court.
The apex court later asked the political stakeholders to evolve a consensus on holding elections in the entire country on the same day and the government and the PTI finally sat across the table from each other to set a date for general polls.
“On Tuesday (today), we will hold talks with the rulers on a one-point agenda: if they agree to dissolve the assemblies before May 14 then the PTI will agree to the proposal of same-day elections.
“However, if they refuse to dissolve the assemblies by May 14 and try to defer elections till after the budget then we will approach the Supreme Court and demand elections on May 14 in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he added.
The PTI chief said his party stands with the Supreme Court and the Constitution. “Till now we have held peaceful public gatherings and political rallies but next week will be decisive.”
Imran told the party supporters that he agreed to hold negotiations with the ruling parties at the request of the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
However, the PTI chief said he doubted the rulers’ intentions behind engaging with the PTI, saying that they were using all tactics to delay elections until the PTI and Imran Khan were weakened.
“They are running away from the elections, as they fear they will lose them. They are using dirty tactics, including harassment and arrests of our leaders and workers, assassination attempts on me and maligning me with false cases, to weaken the party and remove me from the political scene.
“They want to hold elections only when they are sure they can win them,” he added.
He was of the view that if the Constitution was breached, the economy would further deteriorate; the people were already hard pressed by unprecedented inflation in the country. “If the political situation is not stabilized, chances of foreign investments will diminish,” he added.
The PTI also organised rallies in other cities of the country in connection with the Labour Day. Thousands of people—party workers and supports—participated in these events.