Pakistan News

PTI invites opposition to block Elections Bill 2017

PTI invites opposition to block Elections Bill 2017

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday said that his party will attempt to block the Elections Bill 2017 from passing, hours before it was due to be presented to the lower house of parliament.

Speaking to the media, the PTI chief said he was contacting other opposition parties to invite them to challenge the bill, which had been passed with a majority vote by Senate last month after a key amendment proposed by the PPP to retain a clause resurrected by retired Gen Pervez Mushar­raf through the Political Parties Order 2002 was rejected.

Under the bill, the legal bar on a person to serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is either not qualified to be, or disqualified from being, elected as a member of parliament under Article 63 of the Constitution was removed, paving the way for an otherwise ineligible Nawaz Sharif to head his own faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.

"This bill will provide an opportunity to a criminal to become the head of a party," Khan said, referring to the former prime minister. "You are creating a law for a criminal," Khan said, adding that the moral conscience of the country was being jeopardised.

"Does this happen in democracies? Democracy means transparency," Khan said, threatening to approach the courts if the ruling party attempted to bulldoze the bill through the National Assembly. Khan also said that he had "already planned rallies" in case of such an eventuality.

Criticising the ruling PML-N on several fronts, the PTI chief also reiterated his call for fresh elections.

He also said that Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had staged a "drama" in the capital today as Nawaz appeared before an accountability court for a hearing regarding several graft cases opened against him.

"Rangers have suddenly appeared and taken over this place," Iqbal had said as he lashed out at the paramilitary force for barring PML-N leaders, lawyers and supporters of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif from entering an accountability court in Islamabad.

Khan said Iqbal's statement would create conflict among the country's institutions.

The PTI chief also spoke in reference to the on-going case against him in the Supreme Court, which seeks his disqualification over the non-disclosure of assets, ownership of offshore companies and receiving foreign funding for his party.

Khan claimed that he had submitted complete details of his finances and documents pertaining to the money trail for his Draycott Flat in London.

"I am being compared to the country's biggest criminal," Khan said, again referring to the former prime minister. The PTI chief said that while the Sharif family had not submitted any evidence or money trail before the apex court during the Panama Papers case, he had done so in the disqualification case against him — a statement so far found wanting by the Supreme Court, which has directed him to establish, beyond a doubt, how a considerable sum of money was transferred to Khan's ex-wife, Jemima Khan.

Khan also publicly endorsed Shah Mehmood Qureshi as a replacement for the PPP's Khursheed Shah as opposition leader, saying he was one of the most experienced parliamentarians in Pakistan. However, he clarified that he would consult opposition parties over the proposal before making a formal move.

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