Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has finally decided to jump in the campaign for the by-election of NA-120, as he is all set to lead a public rally from Lahore’s Charring Cross to the shrine of Data Darbar today (Thursday).
According to details, PTI chief was earlier reluctant to run a campaign for his candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid in the constituency because of the fear of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)—as the ECP has put a ban on public office holders to run a campaign in the constituency after the announcement of the schedule of the election. Therefore, PTI chairman addressed a public gathering on September 8 at Jail Road—the area that falls just outside the boundary of NA-120—but the poor public show that day compelled him to personally visit the constituency, in order to grab maximum votes on the polling day September 17.
Surprisingly, PTI was not able to attract people in big numbers at Imran Khan’s public address at Jail road, as maximum chairs were seen lying vacant during his speech that reportedly annoyed Khan. The PTI chief then decided to take matters into his own hands, opting to visit the constituency himself while ignoring the restriction of ECP.
It is pertinent to mention here that Imran Khan was quite circumspect this time because of the code of conduct of the ECP; therefore, he preferred not to visit the constituency earlier when he spent two days in Lahore during the last week of August, where he held meetings with the party workers by staying outside the NA-120 constituency.
The ECP clearly mentions that after the issuance of schedule of by-election, the president, prime minister, Senate chairman/deputy chairman, speakers of assemblies, federal ministers, ministers of state, governor, chief minister, Members of the National Assembly/Provincial Assembly and other public office holders will neither visit the area of any constituency nor shall openly or in secret give any subscription or donation or make promise for giving such subscription or donation to any institution of a constituency, nor shall inaugurate, commit to undertake or announce any development project therein for the advancement of the campaign of a candidate of his choice and thereby influence the results of election.
According to PTI supremo’s rally schedule, the rally would commence from Charring Cross and would end at Data Darbar by passing through Regal Chowk, Lahore High Court Chowk, Anarkali and Nasir Bagh—all these areas directly fall in NA-120.
Talking to Pakistan Today, PTI’s Joint Secretary from Central Punjab Ali Naveed Bhatti said that Khan Sahib is going to the shrine of Data Darbar just to pay homage and to lay a wreath at the shrine of a great Sufi saint. “The ECP did nothing against the ministers and MPAs hailing from the ruling party, who are audaciously breaching the code of conduct day and night; therefore, the commission has no right to take any action against Imran Khan,” Bhatti said, who is also running the main election office of PTI in PP-139 that falls in NA-120.
Some insiders of the party said that Imran Khan has decided to stay in Lahore till the polling day to oversee the concluding days of the election campaign.