What Imran Khan should do?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

What Imran Khan should do?

All opinion polls show that 90% Pakistanis support former Prime Minister Imran Khan, and hence if free and fair parliamentary elections are held in Pakistan on 8th February ( the scheduled date ) his PTI party will sweep the polls.

However, the Pakistan Establishment ( meaning the Pakistan army ) is determined that the corrupt Nawaz Sharif, and not Imran Khan, becomes the next Prime Minister. This is evident from the reception Nawaz Sharif received on his return from England to Pakistan, and the reversal of verdicts and withdrawal of pending cases against him, by the servile judiciary ( obviously at the dictates of the Establishment ). It is also evident from the fact that almost all PTI leaders and 12,000-14,000 of its supporters are in jail on bogus and concocted charges, or have underground, or have deserted.

So how will the Establishment ensure this ?

In this connection one must remember that what matters is not for whom a vote is cast. What matters is what comes out of the ballot box. So even if a vote is cast for a PTI candidate, what will emerge from the ballot box is a vote for the PMLN, and to a lesser extent, the PPP. This can easily be managed by various means, since all authorities, including the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court are acting as directed by the Establishment, and are dancing to its tune.

So what should Imran Khan do ?

In my opinion he should declare forthwith that the PTI will not contest the elections on 8th February unless the following conditions are met to ensure a level playing field :

1. All PTI leaders and supporters are released immediately, and the bogus charges against them are withdrawn forthwith, and no threats are given to them.

2. The PTI is allowed to hold its public meetings and campaign without any fear of arrest or other dire consequences of its organisers or persons attending them.

3. The elections are held under international supervision of the UN or some reputed organisations/persons.

4. Persons designated by the PTI ( and other parties ) are allowed to stay near the ballot boxes during voting, during counting of votes, and when the ballot boxes are opened..

Unless these conditions are met it will be a serious mistake for the PTI to contest the elections, which will certainly be rigged otherwise..

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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