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Imran Khan, Qureshi Acquitted in Cipher Case

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hasan noted the case lacked evidence, as the cipher and its contents were never presented in court….reports Asian Lite News

In a major development for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday acquitted party Chief and former Prime Minister Imran Khan along with the former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case, nullifying their 10-year sentence.

As per the order given by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hasan, it was observed that there was lack of evidence in the case as the primary issue of the cipher and its contents were never presented before the court.

The judgment holds massive significance for both Khan and Qureshi as it not only trims down their 10-year prison sentence but also vindicates their stance that the earlier verdict given by a special court was based on political motives to keep them and their party out of the election race.

“Today is a day of celebration for all Pakistanis. Truth has won and justice has prevailed as the baseless case has been quashed,” said PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan.

He insisted that Khan, who has spent 10 months in jail in the case, will walk free soon as such “baseless cases” are framed only for “political victimisation”.

Another senior PTI leader, Shibli Faraz said that the party has seen very difficult days and suffered badly because of politically-motivated cases against its top leadership.

“Imran Khan is a true patriot. Despite being in jail in these difficult conditions, he has not done any deal nor has he sent his apology to anyone,” he said.

“Other leaders from PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz) and PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) would have immediately left the country. But, Khan is fighting bravely because he has dedicated his life to the people of Pakistan,” he added.

Salman Safdar, the lawyer who represented Khan and Qureshi in the cipher case, said Monday’s verdict is a result of a tedious three-month struggle and the courage of the High Court judges.

“The government failed miserably in proving its case before the court. The prosecutors had to step back from their principal position. Hats off to the honourable judges. Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi have not committed any anti-state activity. We had made it clear from the first day that we want to argue on the merits of the case and that we will demand acquittal in the case,” he added.

In March 2022, Khan delivered a speech at a public gathering in Islamabad, during which he waved a document, claiming it to be the cipher letter, in which, Donald Lu, the then US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs had warned of serious consequences for Pakistan if Khan would survive the Vote of No Confidence (VONC).

The meeting detail between the US diplomat and the then Pakistani Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed was communicated to the Pakistan Foreign Office through a coded cipher communication letter marked “confidential”, which was shared with then-premier Imran Khan.

The case framed against Khan and Qureshi alleged that the cipher document was misplaced and its sensitive contents were leaked and waved in the public gathering. The case alleged that Khan later used the secret document and its classified information for personal and political gains.

Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) started a probe into the cipher gate case in July 2023 after the announcement of an official inquiry by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition government under the premiership of Shehbaz Sharif.

Khan was later arrested in August after being convicted in the Toshakhana case and was also declared arrested in the cipher case.

Both Khan and Qureshi were charged under section 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) of the Pakistan Army, which meant that the provision could result in a possible death penalty or life imprisonment for both.

Earlier this year, a special court established under the Official Secret Act awarded Imran and Qureshi to at least 10-year imprisonment in the high-profile case. PTI, through its lawyer Safdar, appealed against the convictions in the Islamabad High Court.

“If the information has been twisted, then it should be known what the information was,” stated Chief Justice Farooq during the hearing on Monday.

The IHC verdict maintained that the prosecution “failed to link the alleged crime with revealing secrets concerning the armed forces and sensitive areas to foreign powers”.

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Imran Khan Under Fire for Clearing US, Blaming Bajwa

Khan, after two years of his government’s ouster, now believes that General Bajwa is solely to be blamed for the entire episode….reports Hamza Ameer

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has come under severe criticism from his political opponents for giving a clean chit to the US and other Western countries on their alleged involvement in the ouster of his government in April 2022 and instead putting the entire blame on friend-turned-foe former Army Chief General (Retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa.

In an interview with journalist Mehdi Hasan, Khan retracted from his earlier stance where he had slammed the US for orchestrating a regime change in Pakistan and being part of a conspiracy along with Bajwa and opposition political parties to ensure the implementation of a successful Vote of No Confidence (VONC) against him in the Parliament on April 9, 2022.

Khan, after two years of his government’s ouster, now believes that General Bajwa is solely to be blamed for the entire episode.

“After 11 months in prison, I am certain that this ordeal was orchestrated solely by General Bajwa. He meticulously planned and executed this scheme, presenting himself as a deceitful figure, creating lies and false narratives to cause both national and international chaos – all to secure his extension,” the former PM said while responding to written questions sent to him in prison by Hasan.

“I hold no one else responsible,” Khan added.

His comments, however, have not gone down well with several analysts and political leaders in the country.

“Imran Khan is a liar. He carried out a massive public campaign against the US, blaming Washington for ousting his government and gave many reasons why they wanted him out,” said Talal Chaudhry, senior leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N).

“He had claimed he was ousted for not giving bases to the US forces and for going to Russia. He also claimed that the then US Under Secretary Donald Lu met the Pakistani Ambassador in the US and warned him of the consequences if the vote of no confidence against Khan was unsuccessful. And today, ‘Einstein’ Khan says the US had nothing to do with his ouster. That means his whole campaign after the ouster was based on a fake narrative and lies,” added Chaudhry.

Experts also believe that Khan’s latest statement is part of his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) making attempts to normalise ties with the West.

“It is known to all that PTI has hired lobbying companies in the US to activate its contacts with the US government. And that is why Imran Khan is backtracking from his previous claim of US-led regime change. But the fact is that in 2022, Imran Khan addressed over 80 public gatherings on the same narrative. It was the most popular anti-establishment, anti-government and anti-US narrative at the time,” said political analyst Rizwan Razi.

“Khan raised popular slogans like ‘absolutely not’ and ‘are we slaves’ slamming the US and the West for hatching a conspiracy against his government and teaming up with the military establishment and opposition parties to oust his government. He would call the military establishment ‘janwar’ (animals). Back then, it was the popular political narrative because it was useful for his political resistance. Today, he wants the US intervention for his own benefit. How blatantly convenient!” said Razi.

Imran Khan is currently serving a jail term in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi and is staring at a long legal battle with tonnes of cases piled up against him.

Khan is also among the most popular leaders of Pakistan with a support base spread across the country and abroad, majorly because of his regime change narrative, anti-military stance and refusal to team up with his political opponents, who he claims have taken power through an illegitimate polling process in February, this year by stealing his party’s mandate.

“This government lacks legitimacy,” Khan said, adding that the world should not ignore the struggle for democracy and the “plight” of the people in Pakistan.

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Nawaz Claims Imran Khan ‘Backstabbed’ Him in 2013

Nawaz claims Imran and other leaders went to London, where they plotted protests upon returning to Pakistan….reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif accused Pakistan Tareek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan of ‘backstabbing’ him in 2013 by carrying out protest rallies despite assuring him of cooperation after elections, reported Dawn.

Addressing a meeting of the PML-N’s Central Working Committee (CWC) in Lahore, Nawaz said upon assuming power in 2013, he visited Imran at his residence in Banigala and they agreed on a working relationship for the country’s sake.

Nawaz further said Imran, thereafter, went to London along with other political leaders where a “plot was hatched” as per which protests were launched in the country upon the latter’s return, Dawn reported.

Nawaz said he was left befuddled by the development, adding that he should have been informed about the matter or whatever the PTI’s reservations were, according to the report.

“I visit you and you stab me in the back by assuring cooperation, and then you begin protests in Islamabad’s D-Chowk?” Dawn quoted Nawaz as saying.

He added that his cabinet also called for a crackdown on the protests by the police but he asked them to desist, Dawn reported.

The former PM added that it was a ‘matter of record’ that his government had not impeded the formation of the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the 2013 elections, despite being in the position to do so through a coalition.

“We call for accountability of those who destroyed and ruined Pakistan,” the PML(N) chief said.

Urging the people to take a judgment call on which political party had served them the best, Nawaz said they should consider these aspects before casting their votes.

“I have the right to ask my nation this question: What do you think, before voting, about Nawaz Sharif’s performance was and what was that of his opponents?…the nation should answer this. I have a slight complaint with the nation as well. A prime minister is removed in a false case of not taking a salary from his son and the nation stays silent, this is not right,” the former PM said.

Addressing the meeting, Nawaz said false cases against the party were ‘exposed’.

Lauding the performance of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, he also predicted a turnaround in the country’s fortunes going forward, according to Dawn.

Speaking before him, the PM said he was at peace with stepping down as the PML(N) chief and wanted his brother to assume the party’s presidency. (ANI)

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Alvi: Imran prefers jail rather than ‘any deal’

Arif Alvi stressed that ‘real freedom’ can only be achieved through self-respecting leadership that refuses to compromise…reports Asian Lite News

Former President Arif Alvi said on Saturday that Imran Khan, former PM and the founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party who is currently detained in Adiala Jail, would prefer to remain behind bars rather than make ‘any deal,’ ARY News reported.

While speaking to lawyers at Sialkot district bar after their meeting with Imran Khan, Alvi stressed that ‘real freedom’ can only be achieved through self-respecting leadership that refuses to compromise.

Further, the former president remarked on his longstanding relationship with Prime Minister Imran Khan, noting that all institutions are currently headed towards a dead end. “When someone reaches a dead end, matters tend to deteriorate,” he added, as per ARY News.

Quoting the deposed premier, the former president said: “There is no way forward without the supremacy of Constitution,” emphasising that dialogue is the only way out.

Earlier, it was reported that Arif Alvi was given an “important responsibility” by party chief Imran Khan to “resolve things” through dialogue.

According to ARY News, this was revealed during a press conference held by PTI leaders, including National Assembly Opposition Leader Omar Ayub, Arif Alvi, and PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan, outside Adiala jail after their meeting with the ex-PM in the jail.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) underwent a significant shift in its stance on engaging in dialogue with the establishment following the press conference by the Director-General (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), which called for an apology from the party regarding the events of May 9.

Speaking at ARY News programme ‘Khabar’, PTI leader Asad Qaiser said that his party does not want to engage in talks with anyone, emphasising that it only seeks to uphold “constitutional and legal supremacy.”

The May 9 events refer to violent protests that erupted after PTI founder Imran Khan was arrested from the premises of Islamabad High Court in a corruption case in 2023.

During the protests, alleged PTI supporters caused damage to public and private properties and even targeted military installations in various parts of Pakistan.

‘Agencies must stop interfering in politics’

The PTI core committee has called the recent press conference by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general “unconstitutional and illegal,” Pakistan-based Dawn reported. PTI core committee said security agencies should stop the “absurd tradition of interfering in politics”.

According to PTI central media department’s official announcement, the PTI’s top leadership “unanimously rebuffed” the ISPR DG’s demand for an apology. It said that “propaganda” was being conducted against the PTI under the guise of a “false flag operation” on May 9, 2023.

The PTI condemned the government’s action against what it termed “nationwide peaceful protests” against the “May 9 false flag operation” on Thursday, according to Dawn report. Imran Khan-founded party alleged state oppression and fascism was being used to “usurp people’s basic political right to protest.”

The party’s committee criticized the ongoing “politics of revenge” and what it termed “attempts to crush and dismantle” PTI under “the guise of the May 9 false flag operation” and stressed that such actions should be stopped.

They also condemned the alleged interference by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the nominations of election tribunal judges by the Lahore High Court chief justice and called it “criminal and totally unacceptable.”

While addressing a news conference on Friday, PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan slammed Punjab police action against “peaceful” protesters of his party on Thursday.

Khan said that the “fascist and mandate-less governments in the Centre and Punjab” were standing on crutches and their days were numbered, Dawn reported. He said the rule of law gets eroded when intelligence agencies meddle in political and judicial affairs.

Last week, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) demanded an independent inquiry after Pakistan’s former caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi got into a heated exchange, The Express Tribune reported.

A PTI spokesperson said the heated exchange between the two leaders served as an insight to expose the alleged stealing of its electoral malfeasance, according to the report.

After the exchange of words between Kakar and Abbasi, PTI demanded a judicial commission to hold accountable those involved in the wheat import scheme and electoral manipulation.

The spokesperson demanded a thorough investigation to uncover the truth behind the alleged manipulation of election results and the fabrication of Form-47. PTI’s statement came after reports detailed a tense confrontation between Kakar and Abbasi.

During the heated exchange, Kakar purportedly issued a warning, suggesting that revealing certain information about Form-47 could leave the party nowhere to hide, according to The Express Tribune report.

Tensions between the two leaders started over the wheat scandal during a meeting at a private hotel, The Express Tribune reported, citing the sources familiar with the matter. Abbasi allegedly faced criticism for blaming Kakar’s tenure as Pakistan’s Caretaker PM for a wheat scam during a television interview. (ANI)

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Pakistan Unleashes New Tactics to Counter Imran Backers

Security experts do not agree with the government’s new apparatus and have expressed serious concerns over the negative effects on the citizen’s right to privacy…reports Hamza Ameer

Pakistan government’s decision to form a national agency called the National Cyber Crime Investigation Agency (NCCIA) has raised concerns in the country with several experts citing that the move would not only gravely affect citizens’ right to privacy but is also aimed at targeting the massive social media presence of jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

The Establishment Division of the Pakistan government announced the formation of NCCIA with the prime focus on countering propaganda and rumours on social media and safeguarding the digital rights of people.

“There must be an end to harassment, including online,” said Federal Minister for Information and Broadcast Attaullah Tarar on Thursday.

He added that there was an “immediate and dire need” of an authority like NCCIA to address the issue of online harassment and also to protect the digital rights of consumers.

However, security experts do not agree with the government and have expressed serious concerns over the negative effects on the citizen’s right to privacy.

“It raises concerns that go beyond the duplication of efforts and resources, the move may also gravely affect citizen’s right to privacy which seems to have been overlooked in the rush to bolster cyber defences,” said Khawaja Khalid Farooq, former Inspector General of Police and ex-head of National Counter-Terrorism Authority.

Another view states that the military establishment wants to have a strong strategy and authority in place to tackle the anti-establishment campaigns run by PTI through its large presence on social media.

“PTI is the only political party in Pakistan with a very strong social media presence. Its campaigns and social media teams have the strongest influence on the masses through social media engagements,” says senior political analyst Javed Siddique.

“The anti-military sentiments have prevailed and broadly expressed on social media platforms by PTI and Imran Khan’s supporters. NCCIA may be designated and directed to work with prime focus on tackling the dissemination of PTI-led anti-establishment campaigns on social media under the legal cover of the controversial PECA act,” he adds.

It is pertinent to note that formation of NCCIA would render the already-existing Cyber Crime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as defunct.

As per the notification in the Gazette of Pakistan, the formation of NCCIA has been formed under Section 51 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA). The notification also mentioned that NCCIA would take over the cyber crime investigations of the FIA Cyber Crime Wing in December 2024, adding that FIA would now cease to perform functions as designated agency under the act.

“The NCCIA will be headed by a Director General, chosen by the federal government to serve a two-year term. The NCCIA chief would exercise the powers of an Inspector General of Police while the agency’s affairs related to the federal government’s business would be allocated to the Interior Division,” the Gazette of Pakistan notification maintained.

Experts, however, believe that the formation of NCCIA is irrelevant because FIA cyber crime wing has got the framework, requisite capabilities and is equipped to deal with cyber threats.

“Creating the NCCIA to replace the FIA’s cyber crime wing could result in an overlap of responsibilities, leading to bureaucratic inefficiencies and confusion,” said Farooq.

“There is a risk that the pursuit of cyber security, privacy rights could be compromised without stringent checks and balances in place,” he added.

Another view states that the military establishment wants to have a strong strategy and authority in place to tackle the strong social media presence of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that targets the military establishment.

“PTI is the only political party in Pakistan with a very strong social media presence. Its campaigns and social media teams have the strongest influence on the masses through social media engagements. The anti-military sentiments have prevailed and broadly expressed on social media platforms by PTI and Imran Khan’s supporters. NCCIA may be designated and directed to work with prime focus on tackling the dissemination of PTI led anti-establishment campaigns on social media under the legal cover of the controversial PECA act,” said senior political analyst Javed Siddique.

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My Life’s on the Line: Imran Khan

Imran Khan alleged that Pakistan’s powerful military leadership could make an attempt to eliminate him…reports Hamza Ameer

Former Pakistan Prime Minister and chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Imran Khan has said that the country’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir should be held directly responsible if anything happens to him or his wife.

In an article written from the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, Khan alleged that Pakistan’s powerful military leadership could make an attempt to eliminate him.

Serving a jail term in various cases of corruption, incitement to violence and matters of national security, Khan alleged in his piece written for the UK’s Telegraph that all the charges levelled against him are politically motivated.

“All that is left for them now is to murder me,” he wrote.

Khan wrote that Pakistan has become a “laughing stock” in front of the whole world after conducting flawed elections on February 8. He also mentioned that the 240 million people of the country are angry over the way their voices and support, broadly represented through the power of vote, has been ridiculed.

“The people have shown in no uncertain terms their rejection of state electoral machinations and of the oppression, incarceration and torture of not just the PTI leadership but also of its workers,” he wrote.

“The military leadership has been subjected to overt criticism at a level unseen before in our history. The government is a laughing stock,” he added.

Slamming Pakistan’s military establishment, he stated specifically that the Army Chief General Asim Munir is doing everything to keep him out of politics.

“The establishment has done all they could against me. All that is left for them is to now murder me. I have stated publicly that if anything happens to me or my wife, the Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir will be responsible,” he wrote.

“But I am not afraid because my faith is strong. I would prefer death over slavery,” he added.

Khan said that the only way to get Pakistan out of the current crisis is “to restore the people’s mandate and release all political prisoners including those being held for trial under military courts”.

Khan’s opinion piece has again established his strong and rigid opposition against the military establishment, especially against the current Army Chief General Asim Munir.

It is also a fact that the former PM was not in favor of the appointment of General Munir as the country’s army chief and launched a long march from Lahore to Rawalpindi, smartly delaying it to assert political and public pressure while blocking Munir’s appointment.

He has also blamed the previous military chief General (Retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa for facilitating his government’s opposition alliance, which led to his ouster through a Vote of No Confidence (VONC). Since then, Pakistan’s political outlook has been in shambles with ongoing protests, rallies and campaigns being launched by PTI against the military establishment and the ruling governments.

Last May, the PTI workers stormed military installations in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi and other parts of the country, in protest against the arrest of their leader.

The authorities also launched a similar crackdown against the PTI workers and leaders, blocking their election campaigns during the February 2024 elections, paving the way for Shehbaz Sharif, leader of Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) to become the country’s Prime Minister.

Khan is serving a jail term of three years in a corruption case and a 14-year term for the Toshakhana case besides an additional 10-year jail term for revealing state secrets.

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Court orders medical checkup of Imran Khan, wife

The court stressed the importance of decorum, suggesting addressing the media after the hearing, to which Khan stated that the jail administration removes the media from the courtroom after the hearing…reports Asian Lite News

The Islamabad accountability court has accepted the requests for the medical examination of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder and former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, and directed Bushra Bibi’s endoscopy in a private hospital within two days, The Express Tribune reported.

The decision was made during a hearing presided by Accountability Court Judge Nasir Javed Rana at Adiala Jail regarding the 190 million-pound scam reference.

Further, in an official post on X, PTI said, ” The jail authorities, under the control of the illegitimate regime, have repeatedly overruled court orders.”

In addition to the statement, PTI stated, “What remains to be seen is whether they will comply with the court orders this time or not.”

Moreover, during the hearing, Judge Rana ordered an endoscopy for Bushra Bibi, to be supervised by Dr Asim Younus of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital along with a government doctor, as per The Express Tribune.

Additionally, the judge instructed the presentation of six witnesses related to the reference at the next hearing.

During the proceedings, Judge Nasir Javed Rana ordered the removal of wooden barriers from the courtroom.

Following an hour-long break, the jail authorities removed all additional sheets.

According to The Express Tribune, concerns were also raised during the proceedings by defence lawyers regarding the difficulties faced by journalists in reporting the case. The judge addressed these concerns by inviting media representatives and Imran Khan to the rostrum, subsequently instructing the jail administration to take necessary steps.

During the proceedings, Imran Khan said that toilet cleaner had been mixed into Bushra Bibi’s food, causing daily stomach irritation, as reported by The Express Tribune.

The court advised Imran Khan to refrain from holding “press conferences” during the hearings.

In response, the PTI founder stated his statements were misquoted and he spoke to reporters to clarify them, The Express Tribune reported.

The court stressed the importance of decorum, suggesting addressing the media after the hearing, to which Khan stated that the jail administration removes the media from the courtroom after the hearing.

He also requested that the court allow him a 10-minute interaction with the media after the hearings.

Earlier on April 15, Bushra Bibi, filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and requested the court conduct her check-up and medical tests at Shaukat Khanum Hospital or any other private hospital of her choice to examine if she was poisoned through contaminated food, Pakistan-based Dawn reported.

In her petition, Bushra Bibi said that she is suffering from heartburn, and aches in her throat and mouth and that she believes that it is the result of eating poisonous meals.

Imran Khan’s wife said that she was poisoned and subjected to psychological torture at her Banigala residence, which has been declared a sub-jail, as per the Dawn report. (ANI)

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Imran Khan Faces IMF Snub

In another setback to Imran Khan, IMF refuses to interfere in Pakistan’s electoral dispute, reports Asian Lite News

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has refused to interfere in Pakistan’s domestic policies after Imran Khan-founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf demanded it review the country’s February 8 polls before sanctioning any new economic package, the Express Tribune reported.

However, the IMF has encouraged Islamabad to hold ‘fair resolution’ of all electoral disputes.

This comes after incarcerated former PM Imran Khan penned a letter to the IMF, urging the global lender to give the poll results a thorough once-over before cutting any new cheques for Islamabad.

“If the country gets a loan in such a situation, then who will return it?” he questioned, expressing concerns that such a loan could lead to an increase in poverty.

Khan warned that without substantial investment in the country, the burden of loans would continue to rise, underscoring the need for political stability.

While breaking its silence on the PTI’s attempt to involve the global lender in political matters, an IMF spokesperson instead showed readiness to negotiate the next medium-term programme with the newly-elected government.

“The IMF, as an international institution with a narrow mandate on economic issues, does not comment on domestic political developments,” said the IMF spokesperson while commenting on the letter written by the PTI.

The IMF said that it received a letter from a PTI spokesperson on February 28 regarding the Fund’s engagement with Pakistan under the programme, as reported by Express Tribune.

Notably, PTI has throughout termed the Feb 8 polls as ‘disputed’ while alleging a lack of ‘level playing field’. The party claims to have won about 177 seats as against 92, which were notified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as independently elected members of the National Assembly. The PTI has also claimed to have documentary evidence of rigging in the elections and demanded that the IMF should play a role in conducting the investigations.

“Given the importance of the institutional environment for economic stability and growth, we do encourage the fair and peaceful resolution of all electoral disputes,” said the IMF spokesperson.

The IMF’s current USD 3 billion short-term bailout package is expiring before the middle of next month and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has already given a go-ahead to the Finance Ministry to begin discussions for signing a new Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

The last EFF had expired in June without the disbursement of the USD 2.6 billion loan amount due to Pakistan’s failure to meet the programme conditions.

The last loan tranche of $1.2 billion of the current programme remains undisbursed and the IMF is waiting for the formation of the federal cabinet before sending a mission to Pakistan.

“We look forward to engaging with the new government to complete the second review under the current Stand-by Arrangement and, should the government request, support the formulation of a new medium-term economic programme,” according to the IMF spokesperson.

The spokesperson said that the IMF’s aim is to support the implementation of strong policies to deepen financial stability, address long-standing economic and underlying balance of payments challenges, and restore sustained and inclusive growth for the benefit of all Pakistani citizens, Express Tribune reported. (ANI)

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PTI Threatens to Disrupt Assembly Unless They Get ‘Due Rights’

PTI leader Junaid Akbar said: “We do not recognise this assembly. We will neither legislate nor allow it [in the House].

Coming down hard on the ruling alliance, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Junaid Akbar warned that they would not let the National Assembly function until provision of their “due rights,” Geo News reported on Friday.

The PTI leader, who is also a Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) lawmaker, made the remarks during his fiery speech at the second session of the newly elected lower house of parliament.

Taking the floor, Akbar said: “We do not recognise this assembly. We will neither legislate nor allow it [in the House].

Notably, the Imran Khan-founded party has claimed that its mandate was “stolen” during the February 8 general elections. It has termed the polls “rigged” and accused the caretaker government of denying a ‘level playing field’ in the run-up to elections.

“A market [of horse-trading] was set up at the Sindh House and consciences [of lawmakers] were bought,” Akbar said firing a fresh salvo at the Pakistan Peoples Party. “Some were threatened, some were shown their videos.”

Highlighting the cases of alleged discrimination with the PTI, the lawmaker said that his party was stripped of its electoral symbol ‘bat’ in the garb of May 9 mayhem.

He also alleged that two assassination attempts were made on the life of the PTI founder.

Some 34 PTI supporters were killed on May 9 and FIRs were also lodged against the leadership of Khan-founded party, he added. “Sedition cases were registered against me and my friends.”

The May 9 riots were triggered almost across the country after the deposed prime minister’s arrest in the 190-million-pound settlement case. Hundreds of PTI workers and senior leaders were put behind bars for their involvement in violence and attacks on military installations, according to Geo News.

During the protests, the miscreants targeted the civil and military installations including — Jinnah House and the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. The military termed May 9 “Black Day” and decided to try the miscreants under the Army Act.

(Photo: Instagram)

Talking about the alleged rigging in the February 8 general elections, the PTI leader said that those who suffered defeat as per Form 45 were sitting in the House.

He also vowed to hold the ruling alliance accountable for “violating” the constitution and harming the country.

The PTI urged the government and Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa to launch a fresh inquiry to ascertain the beneficiary of the May 9 violence, Geo News reported. (ANI)

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Imran Seeks IMF Election Audit Before New Loan

Former PM Imran Khan warned that the loan would lead to more poverty and add to the country’s burden.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder and former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, confirmed on Friday that he had sent a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demanding that it hold an audit of the election results before approving any new loan for Islamabad, The News International reported.

“The letter has been written to the IMF and will be dispatched today. If the country gets a loan in such a situation, then who will return it?” PTI leader told media during a hearing of the £190 million reference at Adiala Jail.

The former PM warned that the loan would lead to more poverty and add to the country’s burden.

According to the News International report, Khan’s update about the letter comes a day after PTI senator Ali Zafar announced that the party founder had decided to write to the global lender urging it to call for an audit of the February 8 election before it continues talks with Islamabad for a new loan programme.

However, the IMF, on Saturday, expressed willingness to work with the new Pakistani government, ignoring his demand, the news report stated.

Meanwhile, former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the letter holds no significance, adding that if the PTI founder has written against the country’s national interest then it is condemnable.

“Writing anything for personal gain is shameful. PTI founder’s letter will have no significance,” Dar, a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), told media outside the Punjab Assembly.

Pakistan’s former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar

Pakistan secured a short-term USD 3 billion programme from the IMF last year which helped to avert a sovereign debt default. It will run out next month and securing a new and much bigger one is widely seen as the priority for the new administration, Geo News reported.

With the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and their allies striking a deal to form a coalition government, the PTI and some other political parties have altogether rejected the elections and announced country-wide protests.

The PTI has demanded election results be issued based on Form 45–the results of a single polling station instead of Form 47–the consolidated results of a constituency, as the party claimed the votes were rigged after its Independent candidates won a simple majority in the National Assembly. (ANI)

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