ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Sunday said the government was not making any serious effort to resume talks over the party’s longstanding demand for the constitution of a judicial commission and joint investigation team to probe alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections.

Addressing a press conference at his Bani Gala residence in Islamabad on Sunday, Imran welcomed Sardar Saifuddin Khosa, scion of PML-N’s disgruntled leader Senator Sardar Zulfikar Khosa; Niaz Khan Jakhar, former MNA from the PPP; and Sardar Bahadar Khan Sehar, former minister for defence production, into his party. The three leading politicians from southern Punjab announced their formal joining the PTI.

Imran Khan said, “I apologise to the citizens of Faisalabad. We did not want to create problems for them.”

“If traders of Faisalabad think our demands are legitimate; they should join us, otherwise they can continue with their business. Peaceful protest is our right,” he added. Imran Khan said he knows it would be difficult but there is no other way left for the people other than taking to streets to claim their rights.

Talking about the 15 meetings already held with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the PTI chairman said the government had agreed to form judicial commission and joint investigation team, comprising members from the ISI, Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau.

“We have documentary proof in this regard but they later backed out when the pressure was reduced,” he added.

Imran argued that the PTI had virtually withdrawn its core demand of the prime minister’s resignation but the government was not serious about the constitution of the judicial commission. “The government can announce a judicial commission in 48 hours, but it is not willing to as it did not pursue the matter after writing a letter to the chief justice on August 13,” he added.

On the occasion, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said everything was settled during the negotiations, except an understating on the terms of reference of the commission. “One minister hints at talks resumption while the other came up with threats,” Qureshi said, adding that talks would resume when Dar would reach out to him and set a date and time for a meeting.

Imran Khan said that he did not have any objection to the newly appointed chief election commissioner – Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan.

The PTI chief credited Sardar Raza Khan with having a good reputation. However, he added that the provincial representatives under him must be replaced. “They have no justification to stay in office when they failed to hold free and fair elections,” he added. Imran Khan warned that if the system allowed to continue as it is then the next elections will also be rigged.

Responding to the government’s claim that the PTI’s Islamabad sit-in was causing losses to the country’s economy, Imran argued that the protests had, in fact, lead to a fall in corruption and petroleum prices in the country. “Electricity is produced from furnace oil. While oil prices have been reduced the government has increased the electricity tariff,” he said. “This is leading to power theft.”

On the contrary, the head of the government’s negotiating team, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, told the media that the PTI had not considered its proposal to “postpone” the Faisalabad ‘show’.

“We will see what they do tomorrow and then take a decision,” he said.

Responding to media reports that he did not provide any evidence to the election tribunal during the hearing of the alleged rigging case in NA-122, Imran said he could not collect evidence as he was bedridden at the time. “The evidence is inside polling bags,” he said. “I was in the hospital; how could I collect evidence, should I have sent spies to do that.”

Imran Khan made it clear that even if the rigging charges would not prove they would not return to assemblies and start preparations for the next general elections.

DELAY IN PROBE TO

COMPLICATE ISSUE: SIRAJ

Staff Reporter from Peshawar adds: Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Siraj-ul-Haq has warned that delay in formation of a judicial commission would further complicate the issue and the government should take serious steps to resume dialogue with PTI.

He expressed these views at a convocation ceremony of a religious seminary here on Sunday. He was also flanked by JI Information Secretary Israr Ullah Advocate, JI Peshawar Ameer Sabir Hussain Awan and other party workers.

Commenting on the present situation in the country, he reminded that the mishaps of 1958, 1977 and 1999 are clear examples of the foolish behaviour of the rulers. Both parties should ignore their egos and take serious steps to drag the country out of the current crisis.

Siraj shared that the country was in the clutches of capitalistic system where rich people were enjoying life and poor were striving hard for two-time meal.