What does Imran want?

Source:  Dawn.com Published in Politics on Monday, May 12, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s charter of demands, which he presented during his speech on Sunday night, has brought little clarity on what he wants.

When Khan announced the rally in Islamabad some time ago, there was considerable confusion on what he intended to achieve.

Was it a recount on four constituencies? Or did he want a re-election on them? Or as some critics alleged, Khan was looking to derail the system?

The PTI leadership insisted in more than one speech that the party was simply looking for justice, which it had been unable to get from the judicial system — its petitions in the election tribunals and the courts had yielded no results.

But then what could the government do, which was the target of its rally in Islamabad, if the courts were — as Khan alleged — not providing justice?

No one provided an answer.

However, Khan’s speech has simply added to the confusion.

He has demanded a range of immediate, mid- and long-term actions that range from recounting in the four constituencies to the removal of the existing members of the election commission to punishment for those who rigged the 2013 election to selection of an impartial caretaker set-up in the future.

Apart from the demand for a re-count in the four constituencies, it is difficult to understand why the PTI needs to plan a series of rallies across the country to press for its demands (Khan announced that the next rally would be held in Faisalabad at the end of the month).

The PTI now enjoys a strong presence in the parliament — why does it not introduce changes in the law to strengthen or reform the electoral process and the Election Commission?

Why resort to street power instead?

In addition, it is also not clear what some of his demands mean?

For instance, the 18th Amendment now ensures that the selection of the caretaker set-ups at the centre and in the provinces is now decided by the government and the opposition jointly.

Is Khan now implying that this consensus is insufficient? It seems so. But what more does he want to see in place? And once again, why is he not using the parliament to highlight and push for these issues?

In fact, the only point that Khan made which had some appeal was when he said with reference to the caretaker set-up that those who accepted a position in an interim set-up should not be allowed accept any government position for the next two years.

Clearly, he said this in reference to Najam Sethi, who after his stint as caretaker chief minister of Punjab during the election hopped across to Qadhafi Stadium to supervise Pakistani cricket. However, there was little else of practical value in Khan’s speech.

Similarly, the demand for granting voting rights to overseas Pakistanis can and should be brought to the parliament. It is hard to fathom why any political party would oppose it? Such a move does not necessitate a countrywide protest?

No senior PTI leader was available after the rally to explain why their chief held a rally to present these demands despite its strong presence in the parliament.

This further lent credence to earlier rumours that this rally was announced in a hurry by the PTI leadership without much planning or forethought.

No wonder then that Rana Sanaullah, the PML-N law minister in Punjab and a vocal critic of the PTI, made sense for once when he said in more than one interview to a television channel that, “the only available forum for these changes is the parliament and the party should utilise its presence in the house for the purpose. There was no need to gather people from all over the country.”

It appears that Khan is still to evolve from his role as a political outsider to a politician who has now been elected to represent the people of Pakistan in the parliament.

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Written by Khawar Ghumman

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