The uncanny stubbornness and obduracy shown by Imran Khan to agitate his mantra of rigging notwithstanding the verdict of the Judicial Commission, dismissal of bulk of PTI petitions by the Election Tribunals and a decisive snub given by the electorate in all the by-elections held for National Assembly seats including NA-122, undoubtedly makes him a unique person. Any other mortal would have put his hands up and retreated to his comfort zone after so many reversals and embarrassing outcomes. He has stood true to his words so repeatedly and emphatically uttered in his public rallies “your captain does not accept defeat”. What it really means is that he only believes in victory and would not accept any other verdict whether given by the people through their ballot or by adjudicating forums like the Judicial Commission and the Election Tribunals. He fails to understand that cricket and politics are different ball games and t o make a successful politicians one needs to exercise pragmatism, vision and flexibility, which regrettably he has failed to display so far. It is said politics is a game of possible. Running after the impossible by persisting with the failed strategy is crass politics.

The advent of PTI at the political horizon was heralded by many including myself, as a harbinger of change and the beginning of a new political culture characterized by no to politics of self-aggrandizement, unremitting devotion to promoting public well being, refurbishing the system of governance, strengthening democracy and state institutions and saying adieu to power politics. But regrettably those hopes have turned out to be misplaced and people really feel disappointed with what has transpired during the last two and half years, particularly the developments in the aftermath of the agitation and sit-in at Islamabad by PTI and PAT. Though the PAT leader after realizing the futility of the sit-in withdrew to his cool resort in Canada to chill it out, Imran Khan kept the pot boiling through his confrontational politics and did not spare any individual of some reckoning in the government and state institutions, on whom he did not heap unsubstantiated allegations of being part of a conspiracy to deprive his party of true mandate of the people.

Finally, when the Judicial Commission (JC) was set up, the PTI signed an agreement with PML(N) saying that that it would accept the Verdict of the Judicial Commission ungrudgingly and abandon its claims of rigging for good in case the findings of the Commission did not endorse party claims. But when the verdict came, the party wriggled out of the commitment. Imran expressed his disappointment over the JC verdict and found a new punching bag in the shape of Election Commission and started putting pressure on its members to resign. When that move failed he found new momentum from the decision of the Election Tribunal for re-polling in NA-122 and vociferously tried to rub in the notion that the verdict was a ranting endorsement of his rigging claims. During campaigning in constituency he repeatedly alleged that Ayaz Sadiq had won in 2013 due to 53,000 fake votes. However the result of the by-election, which indeed was a cliffhanger, proved his allegations wrong. Had Ayaz won through 53,000 fake votes he would have lost by as much margin in the by-polls.

Imran Khan is not letting it go. He has again come up with a theory that the defeat of Aleem Khan was due to transfer of substantial votes from the constituency one day before the polling and that his party would investigate the matter and seek redress of the grievances from the ECP. The ECP has already repudiated the vote transfer claims. According to the official record which is very much verifiable and as clarified by the ECP the vote from one constituency to another constituency can only be transferred on the personal request of the voter who under section 18 of Electoral Roll 1974 has to appear before the registration officer in person and satisfy him in regards to his change of address from the existing constituency to the other constituency. It was not possible for any government official to transfer any vote on his own. As per official record, the number of registered voters in NA-122 during the by-polls was 347762 as compared to 326028 during the 2013 General Elections, showing an increase of 21734 due to registration of new votes.

During the period from 11 May to 26th August 2015, 6635 were shifted to NA-122 from other constituencies and 7750 votes were transferred from it to other constituencies. Further the total number of votes transferred out of NA-122 during 2015 stood at 525 while 780 votes came to it from other areas, which indicates that the number of votes coming to the constituency was more than the votes transferred out of it. No vote transfer took place in any constituency during the month of September or one day before the polls as alleged by PTI. As the foregoing facts reveal the number of votes shifted out of the constituency and those received from other constituencies were almost inconsequential as far as the outcome of the by-polls was concerned.

However the PTI organizer for Punjab Chaudhry Sarwar insists that the party has collected irrefutable evidence in regards to transfer of votes from the constituency without the consent of the voters and even provided some CNIC numbers of those voters to electronic channels to hammer in the rigging claims. Interestingly, according to an investigative report of a correspondent of a national English daily, these CNICs are fake and they are not on the record of NADRA. That is something very serious and is tantamount to forgery. Probably this is an issue, which needs to be thoroughly probed, and findings made public. This thing has gone too far and needs to be checked in its tracks to save the country from its evil effects. Chaudhry Sarwar is very much capable of employing such tactics. No wonder he was charged of elections fraud and perverting the course of justice when he was elected member of British parliament in 1997, for having bribed his political opponent to withdraw from the contest. He has already started casting doubts about the fairness of the ensuing local government elections by saying that Election Commission had become B team of PML(N) for those elections, amply suggesting what would be the reaction of PTI if it loses the local elections.

In my view the PTI, particularly Imran must revisit his strategy and refuse to be misled by the opportunists, carpet baggers and turn coats surrounding him. The rigging mantra has been overdone. He must show sportsman spirit and accept the ground realities ungrudgingly and focus his attention on the pressing national issues and challenges and wait for the 2018 elections.