Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan’s party holds election rallies amid government crackdown

Islamabad, Jan 28 (EFE).- Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan’s political party held rallies across the country on Sunday as part of its election campaign amid a government crackdown that has led to many of its workers being put behind bars.

Khan, incarcerated in jail since August, had urged his party’s election candidates to hold countrywide rallies to mobilize voters ahead of general elections in the country on Feb. 8.

However, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party alleged that several of its workers were arrested in a bid to prevent them from holding rallies.

“There’s a massive crackdown underway to stop people from coming out and showing solidarity with the party,” PTI spokesperson Ahmed Janjua said in a statement.

“Workers are being arrested, offices raided,” he added.

The spokesperson of arguably the most popular party in the country said that no fundamental rights were being implemented in Pakistan with Khan imprisoned and speedy trials in different legal cases against him in progress.

PTI’s acting chairman Gohar Khan released the party’s manifesto during a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday.

In its manifesto, the party proposed direct election of the prime minister from the public instead of being elected by the National Assembly (NA) members or lower house of the parliament.

According to the manifesto, the prime minister would form a cabinet of advisors and experts chosen from the NA.

It also suggested reducing legislative terms to four years for NA and five years for Senate or upper house.

“All powerful institutions to be made subservient to serve the nation as defined in the constitution of Pakistan,” the manifesto read, adding that the state institutions’ role would be restricted to “service only.”

The PTI, which is leading the polls in the country, has alleged that it is being victimized through a state-led crackdown by the country’s powerful military and the caretaker government aimed at making it lose the polls.

It has accused three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of reaching a secret deal with the military establishment for election rigging.

The military, which has directly ruled the country for over three decades, has denied any involvement in politics.

Khan, 71, was ousted from power in April 2022 in a parliamentary vote after falling out with the powerful military establishment.

Khan claimed that the US conspired with the military to oust him from power over his neutral stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Washington has repeatedly denied Khan’s allegations.

Since then, the leader has campaigned for “Haqeeqi Azaadi” or real independence, apparently from the military’s involvement in the decision-making of elected governments.

His party has said that the country will get the real independence on Feb. 8 through the ballot.

Before his arrest in August, Khan’s brief detention in May last year sparked unrest in the country with violent protesters vandalizing and setting several military’s buildings and installations on fire. EFE

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