ISLAMABAD: PTI yesterday postponed its much-hyped October 4 rally, which was aimed to pressurise members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to resign. “We have decided to postpone our October 4 rally as we know that the government wants a clash and will place responsibility on us. We would give a new date for the protest after by-election of NA-122 in Lahore,” Chairman PTI Imran Khan said while addressing a press conference at his residence in Bani Gala. He made the announcement following meeting of the party’ Core Committee that discussed the issue threadbare.

“Majority leadership within party wanted to cancel the rally fearing a clash in the red zone. The leadership thought that this would create a law and order situation and will divert the focus of party away from Lahore by-election,” a participant of the Core Committee meeting said. “The decision came when the Punjab leadership insisted that the rally would switch focus from the by-election in Lahore,” a senior PTI leader said. He said that the battle in NA-122 was not between two candidates but between two parties.

Flanked by Jehangir Tareen and KP chief minister Pervez Khattak, Khan during the press conference said that PTI would hold rally at D Chowk after October 11, as it was their democratic right to protest peacefully. He said that the party would not stop protesting against ECP members till they step down. “We will hold a massive rally in Lahore on October 9 as a protest against the Punjab Election Commission,” Khan said. He said that he was going to Lahore to lead the by-election campaign there. “But I fear that PML-N will get a stay order in NA-122 as they did in NA-154 (Lodhran constituency) fearing defeat,” Chairman PTI said.

He said that PML-N had a record of getting stay orders. He said that Shahbaz Sharif remained chief minister Punjab for more than four years on stay order, Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiqe was on stay order for more than five months and former Speaker Ayaz Sadiq worked on a stay order for a year. “Just when 12 days were left in the by-election in NA-154 and PML-N got stay order,” he said. He said that what was our justice system where a people like Hamid Khan, Jehangir Tareen and himself had to wait for two and half year to get justice against rigging.

Criticising the role of ECP in by-polls, PTI chief said, “ECP has a conflict of interest and wants the PTI to lose so they could disprove the allegations”. He referred to findings of the judicial commission and said that it gave 40 findings against the ECP, and while it called it ‘incompetence, PTI calls it ‘rigging.’ He alleged that the government was using Punjab Police in by-polls while member of Election Commission of Punjab Justice (r) Riaz Kayani had the backing of PML-N.

Chairman Imran Khan said that PML-N managed to sack judges who had decided election petitions against them. Criticising the PML-N government over its performance on power project, he said, “A democratic government might be sent home on scams like the Nandipur Power Project “. He said that misappropriations in LNG and Solar Power Projects were because the Sharif family wanted to increase its business empire. Khan said that it was the policy of PML-N to award top seats of regulatory bodies to their blue eyes persons. “Nawaz Sharif always plays with his partial empires,” he said.

On Mina incident in Saudi Arabia, Imran Khan said that all Islamic countries should request the Saudi Arabia government for a thorough inquiry so that such incidents could be avoided in future. “I appeal to the government to trace the missing Pakistanis in collaboration with Saudi government,” he concluded.