LAHORE: Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan has accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of appointing media mogul Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi as caretaker chief minister to ‘rig’ the upcoming elections in Punjab.
“Mohsin Naqvi has been appointed by the same people who redlined us. Now they will make all-out efforts to defeat our party in the elections through rigging,” he said in a televised news conference on Monday.
The PTI chairman’s statement comes a day after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) appointed Naqvi as the caretaker after the ruling party and the opposition in the province failed to reach consensus on any name for the post.
In his address, Imran asked his supporters and party workers to stage protests outside ECP offices against Naqvi’s appointment.
“I am inviting all of you to take to the streets from tomorrow for your future. If we accept his appointment then there would be no difference between us and sheep,” he remarked.
He accused the ECP of causing irreparable damage to the country, saying that he is going to challenge the appointment of the caretaker CM in court.
“I have never seen such a dishonest election commission. They always give verdicts against us. The names that we gave for caretaker chief minister were honest people.”
Imran said the role of caretaker set-up is like that of a ‘neutral umpire’, adding: “The appointment of Mohsin Naqvi proved the partiality of the election commission.”
“Mohsin Naqvi will appoint police officers and other bureaucrats who will rig the elections,” he alleged.
‘Key player in regime change operation’
The former premier alleged that the newly-appointed interim chief minister was a key player in the ‘regime change operation’ allegedly hatched in collusion with the US to topple his government in April last year.
“The man who made all-out efforts to topple our government was Mohsin Naqvi. He would meet the former army chief and Nawaz Sharif. Neither is he impartial nor morally fit for the position,” he remarked.
Calling Naqvi a “bitter enemy” of his party, Imran said his TV channel ran propaganda against the PTI, claiming that he held meetings with his political rivals to convince them to topple the PTI-led government.
“If free and fair elections are not held, the situation will spiral out of control and the country can face a Sri Lanka-like situation,” he reiterated.
Imran said that the incumbent rulers know that they cannot defeat his party in the elections “that is why they do not want to hold elections”.
Naqvi’s name was agreed upon in an ECP meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja and attended by four members of the commission, besides ECP secretary and special secretary and ECP director general, law.
The Lahore-born and US-educated Naqvi is a journalist by profession. He was made the CNN regional head upon his return to Pakistan. Naqvi founded a local media network in 2009 and now owns six news channels and a newspaper, according to some media reports.
After the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly, former chief minister Parvez Elahi had proposed Ahmed Nawaz Sukhira and Naveed Akram Cheema for the post of caretaker chief minister, while opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz had suggested the names of Ahad Cheema and Mohsin Naqvi.