Like a recurring bad dream, Mr. Imran Khan was back on the nation’s television screens yesterday upon his return from Saudi Arabia, where he had performed a highly publicised Umra. Social media had been flooded with images of Mr. Khan’s pious activities. Directly upon his return though, he was back to prevaricating, distorting, twisting and telling downright untruths to allege a ‘stolen election’ all over again. Once again, he repeated baseless allegations against various people for having conspired against him. And the reason for saying that he is actually knowingly misrepresenting facts with regard to the probe into NA-122, the constituency where he lost to PMLN’s Ayaz Sadiq, the current speaker of the national assembly. One can excuse his supporters for repeating his claims, simply because they believe in his narrative, and neither have the capacity nor the will to actually try and understand the facts of the probe. But one cannot excuse Mr. Khan for continuing to claim rigging in the face of the report of the local commission, tasked by the Election Tribunal with the audit. The report clearly delineates the administrative irregularities committed by the polling staff, identifies ballot papers with counterfoils that do not contain either the signatures or stamps of the Returning Officers etc., but does not conclude rigging by, or on behalf of, any political party, and declares Mr. Sadiq to have obtained an extra 100 or so votes as a result of the vote count. Still, the final verdict is yet to be arrived at by the Election Tribunal as to whether the votes without the RO’s signatures or stamps will be considered valid or invalid. But Mr. Khan is back on the rampage with his press conferences alleging ‘proof’ of rigging presented by the Commision Report. The Commission Judge clearly stated even yesterday in his statement to the Election Tribunal that he had found no evidence of rigging.

Why Mr. Khan is raving when all four constituencies are being audited is beyond comprehension. These tribunals are doing exactly what he has demanded, though upon initial reporting of the local commission’s report his party leaders and supporters maintained that they had not asked for a ‘vote count’ but for an ‘audit’. It is beyond belief that either they did not understand that the detailed audits being conducted are ‘audits’ indeed, and that the logical end of such an audit would be to do a final re-count the votes found to be valid, or they tried to obfuscate matters as usual. Anyway, the tribunal may or may not invalidate some of the around 30,000 votes invalid depending upon the laid down criteria of election rules and laws. Instead of railing and threatening to ‘shut down’ Pakistan again, it would behove Mr. Khan to allow the tribunals to complete their job. Hence his absurd press conferences raise suspicions that he is now afraid that tribunal decisions will give his entire campaign the lie and he is therefore ratcheting up the noise to undermine the credibility and honesty of the judicial system and the election commission, including that of the election tribunals. The timing of his repeat accusations against Justices Iftikhar Chaudhry and Ramday and the thousands of Returning Officers, which coincided with the Tribunal hearing yesterday is suspect to say the least. But it is entirely in line with his habit of levelling baseless accusations at those who either do not agree with him, criticise his politics, or refuse to accept his version of anything.

Mr. Khan has accused a long list of people, governments and institutions of having conspired against him. And the strong reason for saying that these are baseless accusations, thus far, is provided by his own behaviour. In Chief Justice Chaudhry’s case, when summoned to court to explain his charges, Mr. Khan made a U-turn last year and denied he had meant to accuse the superior judiciary. He was let off the hook. Now once again he is back to the same accusations but has not responded to any of the defamation notices and cases against him in the courts. At least two persons, Chief Justice Chaudhry and the then caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi have already filed cases of damages and defamation against Mr. Khan, which he has failed to appear in court for. But desist from repeating his accusations, he does not.

Mr. Khan’s insistence now that the Tribunals’ job be given to a judicial commission is confounding. When Tribunals exist, why exactly he is insisting on a judicial commission to do their job has never been explained either. Moreover, the key aspects of the judicial commission that have become a stumbling block to an agreement between his party and the government are also telling. First, Mr. Khan would like any incidental instances of administrative irregularities (of the Election Commission), or isolated instances of rigging, to be construed as systematic rigging nationwide with the entire general election being declared void – an absurd and irrational demand. Second, Mr. Khan and PTI are not wont to agree to including his charges of conspiracy in the proposed Judicial Commission. He has accused the superior judiciary, the Returning Officers, the caretaker Chief Minister, the Punjab caretaker government, one television news channel, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, a brigadier, Mir Shakil ur Rahman among others to have conspired against him and his party, which is now wont to calling a conspiracy against Pakistan. Indeed, on the media he has demanded prosecuting the conspirators to be tried for treason. Yet, such is the hollowness of his claims and allegations that neither is he willing to prove these in any court of law, nor does he want the terms of reference of the Judicial Commission he is demanding to include investigation of these charges.

Mr. Khan is now over hump of the appeal of his allegations. With the Tribunals nearing their verdicts and their findings becoming public, every successive untruthful press conference of Mr. Khan is exposing him more and more. He would be well advised to stop now and try to govern the unfortunate province that actually placed trust in him, but is bleeding for lack of any focus on governing by his party.