LAHORE - Claiming that PTI wanted to boycott the presidential elections, party chairman Imran Khan has said that they decided to participate in polls on the insistence of their presidential candidate, Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed.

Addressing a press conference at a local hotel on Sunday, Imran said Wajihuddin ‘convinced me’ of the futility of the boycott, as he recollected that PTI boycotted the 2008 general elections under the banner of defunct All Parties Democratic Parties (APDM) but that step failed to make a political impact.

He however said that “the presidential election has already become controversial with the boycott of the opposition parties.” Those parties were right in their boycotting the election as two to three days were highly insufficient for running the campaign.

But, he said, the PTI was not part of any opposition alliance and therefore not under any compulsion to keep off the polls. He said they simply did not want to provide the PML-N a free ride. “What difference it would make if the PTI boycott the election?” he asked.

Imran appealed to the upright politicians in other parties to vote for Wajihuddin, who refused to take oath under the PCO and always played major role in the movements for civil liberties including the lawyers’ movement against the dictatorial regime of Pervez Musharraf.

The PTI chairman also formally announced not to take part in the government proposed All-Party Conference (APC) for consultation on the security issues, taking the plea that the previous exercises of this kind failed to get the desired results and this APC would meet the same fate.

He asserted that no government can afford to reveal its compulsions on the security issues in a meeting of scores of politicians with different point of views. Some political elements might create problems for the government in framing a policy dealing with the national security issues, he argued.

Extending his party’s support to the government on the matters of national security, the PTI chief demanded an audience with the prime minister and the army chief to learn about their compulsions, especially if there was any secret deal with the United States concerning the drones or other security-related operations on Pakistani soil.

Imran declared that PTI would publish a white paper on the rigging in the general elections of 2013. He said that rigging was carried out to stop PTI from reaching the seat of power in Islamabad so that ‘the party of change’ could not transform the existing system into one that is pro-people.

He also asked the Supreme Court to hear their petition regarding the polls rigging. Asking the party workers to be ready for any challenge facing the country, PTI chief said they would come on the streets to protect democracy if the need arose.

Promising that PTI would hold fair and free bye-elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Imran alleged that Punjab and Sindh governments were preparing for a foul play in the bye-polls.

Commenting on Punjab government’s Local Government Bill, he remarked that the PML-N were trying to bring a system even worse than the British Raj’s governance system at the local level in this region. He said the proposed bill would empower the bureaucracy instead of the local elected representatives.

Imran said that the success of the western nations lies in establishing local governance systems that empower the people at the grass root level and cater to their needs at their doorsteps through the local representatives, who act independently with financial and administrative powers at their disposal.