ISLAMABAD: Following the victory of candidates with its support in the Feb 8 polls, the PTI on Friday claimed it had become the single largest party in the Centre and two provinces and vowed to get back its iconic symbol “bat”.
The party has decided not to sit on the opposition benches in the National Assembly, hinting at alliances with other parties to secure majority in the lower house of parliament.
In an AI-generated message on Imran Khan’s official X account, a message attributed to the erstwhile party chief congratulated supporters on winning the 2024 general elections and securing a two-thirds majority. The message also echoed allegations of rigging, claiming that the party was winning “170 seats” according to Form 45s.
Separately, Central Information Secretary Raoof Hasan said the PTI had already started the consultation process regarding its future course of action. However, he added, physical meetings have not been possible since most elected candidates are either in jail or underground.
AI-generated message from Imran ‘declares victory’ in 2024 polls
“We will soon conduct intra-party elections, after which the party will again approach the court to regain its symbol (bat),” Mr Hasan told Dawn when contacted.
Although he did not specify when the intra-party elections would be conducted, he did say “they will be held soon”. It may be recalled that Imran Khan had recently announced that the party would hold its intra-party polls soon after the Feb 8 elections.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had instructed the PTI to hold fresh intra-party elections last year, which it did. However, this decision was challenged by some disgruntled PTI workers. After a legal battle, the ECP annulled the elections, depriving the party of its electoral symbol ‘bat’.
At a presser earlier, Mr Hasan credited the people for a massive and unprecedented turnout to vote for PTI-backed candidates despite all odds.
He warned that any attempt to derail the people’s decision would have “deadly consequences”, adding that power-wielders must learn to respect the people’s choice.
He recalled that PTI had been facing the worst “reign of terror” and “fascism” for the last two years after the toppling of Khan-led government through a “regime change conspiracy”, as political space constantly shrank for them, not allowing them to hold even a corner meeting, let alone a public gathering.
The PTI official lamented that when the results started pouring in late on Thursday night and the trend clearly showed that PTI was taking a clear lead in the Centre, KP, and Punjab, the “poll manipulators” first slowed down the process of announcement of results and subsequently halted the process altogether to “tamper with the results”.
“PTI candidates were clearly winning with a huge margin in several constituencies, including Islamabad at night, but ironically, their clear victory was converted into defeat in the morning because political engineering was going on behind the scenes,” he added.
Lashing out at the ECP, he said the electoral watchdog’s role always remained highly questionable, as its system collapsed every time at the eleventh hour to “tamper with the poll results”, restarting only after completing the engineering process.
He said PTI had emerged as a leading political force in the Centre, KP, and Punjab, but efforts were underway to manipulate the results in the Centre and Punjab to establish governments of their choice. “We will exercise all legal and constitutional rights to frustrate all bids to tamper with the election results.”
Mr Hasan said the PTI founder would never strike a deal with the powers that be until the ascendency of democracy is established and accepted in a true sense. He added that PTI would use legal and constitutional means to block the undue “interference of non-political forces” in political affairs.
He suggested that the power-wielders should abandon the past practice of stealing public mandates to establish a weak government because it would be neither sustainable nor capable of steering the country out of the prevailing quagmire.
To a question, he reiterated that PTI wanted the formation of an independent judicial commission on the May 9 incidents to identify and punish the actual culprits.
The PTI leader also demanded the constitution of an empowered commission to probe the fraud in the Feb 8 polls, aiming to expose the elements involved in poll tampering and hold them accountable.
In response to another question, the PTI central information secretary stated that PTI did not believe in revenge. He emphasised a special chapter in the PTI manifesto called “wounds healing,” indicating that the party would leave no stone unturned to heal wounds of the country inflicted on it during the past 75 years.
Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2024