Raja Riaz says that there was not even one percent doubt about the ban on PTI before the next elections

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, though assured that all political parties would be provided a level playing field in the next general elections, Raja Riaz, who had nominated Kakar for the slot, insists that PTI will be banned before the polls.

Raja Riaz, who as the leader of the opposition had proposed the name of Kakar as interim PM to former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, told The News on Friday that there was not even one percent doubt about the ban on PTI before the next elections.

He reiterated that the PTI will be banned and the ballot paper will not contain the party’s election symbol i.e. bat. When asked who will ban the PTI, he said that it will be done either by the Election Commission or by the court.

Last month also, Raja Riaz had said that in the next elections, there will be neither the PTI nor its symbol, bat, on the ballot papers for the contest. He had added that Imran Khan would be in jail at the time of elections.

Prime Minister Kakar in the latest interview to a TV channel assured his government would provide a “level playing field” to all political parties when elections are held. “Let me assure you that all of Pakistan’s voters have the right to exercise their vote in favor of the political representative they want to choose or the political party they want to listen to,” he said, adding, “There will be no institutional interference.” If what the premier has stated is important, Raja Riaz could not be ignored either. Regarding the timing of the elections, he still says that the elections will be held in mid-February 2024. Interestingly, Prime Minister Kakar, on the question whether the elections would be held by January or February 2024, said, “They [elections] may be held even before that. But since this is to be decided by the Election Commission of Pakistan, we are also waiting so that as soon as it announces the date, we can complete all preparations linked to it, support it [ECP], fulfill our constitutional obligation and go home.”

A few weeks back Raja Riaz, in a TV talk show, gave what he termed “breaking news” about holding of elections in mid-February. He said that elections would be held a few days before or after February 15, 2024. He said he would be responsible if it does not happen. According to Riaz, the election would not be delayed beyond the dates he had announced and this was the decision. When asked by the anchor of the talk show who decided this (the mid-February timing of election), Raja Riaz said, “Our elders”. When further probed to explain who his elders were, he said the leaders of political parties decided the date of election.

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