ISLAMABAD - PTI Chairman Imran Khan said yesterday that current establishment in Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) could not ensure free and fair elections as the ruling party had its representatives in the commission.

Speaking at a news conference, the PTI chief blamed senior officers in ECP for rigging elections in favour of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and argued the current setup in the commission could not ensure fair and impartial polls.

Mr Khan candidly named Punjab member in ECP Justice (r) Riaz Kiani for altering polls results in favour of PML-N’s candidates. He disclosed that Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah had revealed that Mr Kiani was appointed as one of the four members in ECP on the recommendations of PML-N.

He said his party’s candidate Aleem Khan that contested by-polls against Speaker Ayaz Sadiq will be moving Supreme Court as the ECP failed to do justice. Mr Khan said more than 22,000 votes polled in NA-122 by-election could not be verified by the election commission.

Flanked by Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind, the PTI chief once again threatened to take to the streets if the ECP continued to protect the pro-status quo forces at the cost of stealing the genuine mandate of people.

“Under the law, the ECP is bound to dispose of a petition within 60 days. ECP member from Punjab Riaz Kiani deliberately avoided showing up at the office pretending to be sick. And when the period of 60 days came to an end, he disposed of the petition without any decision,” Khan regretted.

But, he continued, the PTI would fight electoral rigging till the end. “If they think we will watch a repeat of the same type of elections they are mistaken,” he said.

“I ask the ECP on what basis did it pardon 300 people who were involved in gross irregularities? In Balochistan votes were found cast by people who had passed away,” Mr Khan continued.

To a question, the PTI chief slammed former president Asif Ali Zardari for asking National Accountability Bureau (NAB) not to probe corruption cases in Punjab. “This statement is manifestation of the mutual understanding between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Mr Zardari about hushing up corruption cases in the country,” he remarked.

“In fact PML-N and PPP together appointed members ECP to rig the polls. The sitting government has bought loyalties of ECP and the commission has no choice but to protect the interest of the regime and not the mandate of voters,” he maintained.

The PTI chief recalled that his 126-day long sit-in against the government was aimed at only pressurising election authorities to conduct free and fair polls. “This is our principled stance and we will not surrender the demand of impartial elections,” Mr Khan said.

“I request Nawaz Sharif to read the Constitution of Pakistan because free and fair election is our democratic right,” he continued. To a question whether the PTI was really serious to take to the streets again, Khan said he was not in favour of the agitation but if the government failed to mend its ways, he will be left with no option but to agitate….