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Imran Khan announces ‘Jail Bharo’ movement from Wednesday

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  • “We will fill jails, they [authorities] will have no space left to hide.”
  • PTI chief says it’s dangerous CEC is showing inability on conducting polls.
  • “Caretaker chief ministers would be illegal on 91st day,” claims Khan.

Blaming the incumbent coalition government for its “political victimisation” of his party leaders and allies, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has announced kickstarting the ‘Jail Bharo’ (court arrest) movement from Wednesday, starting from Lahore.

“We will fill jails, they [authorities] will have no space left to hide,” he said while warning the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led (PDM) government during his address to the nation via video link from Lahore’s Zaman Park residence on Friday, where he has been residing since being shot in the legs on November 3 last year.

In the wake of sedition cases filed against his party leaders including Fawad Chaudhry, Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill, Imran Khan on February 4 announced “Jail Bharo Tehreek” and asked PTI workers and supporters to prepare for movement across the country.

“They want to enslave us by threatening to put us in jails,” the former prime minister, who was ousted following a vote of no-confidence in April last year, said vowing to fulfil the wish of authorities.

Khan claimed that the police entered the homes of PTI workers in Multan and were tasked with such threatening tactics. “If this work is being done by the police, then won’t the people hate them?”

The interim government is strongly against the PTI, he added.

While referring to the caretaker setup, he said: “The man with a questionable character was brought in. We have a list of 23 people who had inflicted atrocities of which 16 were brought in.”

The PTI chief also recalled the “torture” inflicted on his party’s leaders highlighting the treatment meted out to Swati, Gill and Fawad.

“Never in history have such acts been committed against political opponents,” Khan lamented.

The tensions between the incumbent government and the PTI have heightened, with no sign of respite as the elections in two provinces — Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — near, following the party’s decision to dissolve the assemblies. Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved by the PTI on January 14 and January 18, respectively.

Firing fresh broadside at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the PTI chief said: “It is dangerous that the CEC [Chief Election Commissioner] is showing his inability on conducting the election.”

Khan’s fresh criticism comes hours after President Dr Arif Alvi summoned CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja for an urgent meeting on February 20 (Monday) regarding the announcement of the date for fresh general elections.

He said that they dissolved the provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP as per the knowledge that the country’s Constitution clarifies that the elections should be held within 90 days of the dissolution of any assembly. 

“The caretaker government and the interim chief ministers would be illegal on the 91st day,” he added. 

No disaster could be bigger than that when the judiciary failed to ensure the implementation of the Constitution, he said while hitting out hard at the polls organising authority. “There is no justice where the rule of law collapses.”

Khan said that they had been claiming that the coalition government did not have the mandate and they cannot run the country.

Blaming the interim government for obstructing the probe against the assassination attack on him in Wazirabad on November 3 last year, the PTI chief said “its job is to only conduct elections”.

“The interim government first comes and stops the [joint investigation team] JIT and steals records. When an officer goes to collect the JIT report, it is found that only 11 pages of the report are remaining,” he said, adding that the JIT records are being claimed to have gone missing.

The former premier, lambasting the interim setup in Punjab, said that all links were pointing at them and they were worried about being caught.

Lashing out at the incumbent rulers over the recently announced mini-budget, Khan asked as if raising prices is a “tough decision.”

The government has broken the backbone of people by hiking the prices of all daily-use items, the deposed prime minister added. “[IMF] loans are not the solution to the problems being faced by the country.”

Ruling alliance came into power via ‘auction’

Taking a jibe at the PDM government, Khan said: “They did not come into power via election but auction. The government does not seem to conduct elections in 90 days. They fear elections.”

The ruling alliance wanted to win elections through the rigging, he accused the authorities and at the same time warned that the PTI would not “keep silent over snatching of elections”.

‘Institutions are under pressure’

According to the PTI chief, it seems that institutions are under pressure and the government is running away from elections.

He also vowed that the PTI would not let the government rig the elections, no matter what they do. 

Turning his guns towards the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh, the former prime minister said the PPP has no vote bank in Karachi but it showed achievement in recent elections in the metropolis.

Referring to journalist Arshad Sharif’s assassination and alleged crackdown against his party’s leadership, Khan said that the government wanted to send them behind the bars, hence, they would launch a court arrest campaign across the country. 

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36% of fresh faces make it to the National Assembly.

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Following the general elections of this year, a record 36% of new members have joined the National Assembly.

There are now 96 new legislators that have been elected to the assembly out of 265 total. In the general elections, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has elected the most number of fresh faces as Independents.

Of the new faces, eleven PPP and MQM members, as well as fifteen PML-N members, have become MNAs for the first time. The IPP’s Abdul Aleem Khan and Awn Chaudhry were elected to the National Assembly for the first time.

Ataullah Tarar of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, Mir Jamal Khan Raisani, the party’s youngest member, was also elected from Balochistan for the first time and made it to the lower house.

Sher Afzal Marwat, Latif Khosa, and Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, who is supported by the PTI, are some of the fresh faces. In the last parliament, Shandana Gulzar had a reserved seat; however, this time, she was elected to a general seat.

Arshad Vohra, Syed Mustafa Kamal, and Rauf Siddiqui of the MQM were also elected to the National Assembly for the first time.

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Elections

Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri’s JUI-F resignation from the Senate

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Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani received the JUI-F leader’s resignation, which he accepted.

In the National Assembly, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri will be sworn in as a member.

Following their victories in the general elections on February 8 for the Balochistan Assembly, Senators Sarfraz Bugti and Prince Umar Ahmedzai had already announced their resignations from the Senate.

Prior carer Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani received the resignation of Federal Interior Minister Bugti, which he accepted.

In a similar vein, Senator Prince Umar Ahmedzai of the Balochistan Awami Party resigned from the Senate following his election to the provincial legislature.

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Elections

NA session: The interim government addresses President Alvi’s concerns

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Details indicate that in response, the federal government informed Dr. Arif Alvi that Article 91 of the 1973 Constitution does not grant the president the “discretion or power” to adjourn the National Assembly session.

The sources quoted the federal administration and said, “Nowhere in Article 91 is it written that if the House is incomplete, the National Assembly session cannot be convened.”

It further said that Article 54 of the constitution allowed the president to adjourn the National Assembly’s “ordinary” session alone. According to the summary, the president was requested to call an extraordinary session of the National Assembly so that the newly elected members may take an oath of office.

Dr. Arif Alvi was asked to reconsider his choice and call a meeting of the National Assembly by the acting federal government on February 29.

The sources quoted the federal government and stated, “It is not written anywhere in the constitution that if specific seats are not allotted, the session cannot be called.”

It further said that the National Assembly must be called within 21 days following the election in accordance with Clause 2 of Article 91 of the constitution.

The caretaker administration responded, saying, “Even if the President does not call the National Assembly session by February 29, it would still be held on the same day.”

Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf called a session of the National Assembly on Thursday, February 29th, in order to administer the oath to the newly elected Members of Congress earlier on Monday.

According to specifics, President Arif Alvi declined to call a meeting under clause 2 of Article 91 of the constitution, arguing that the lower body is still unfinished because a decision on certain reserved seats has not yet been made. Consequently, the Speaker National Assembly called the meeting.

The National Assembly’s maiden session was called by Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. The freshly elected members of the National Assembly would take the oath of office from the Speaker. During the first session, the election schedules for speaker and deputy speaker will also be released.

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