Umpire signalled a ‘no-ball’: Imran Khan on party being denied its cricket bat election symbol

ISLAMABAD: In a veiled swipe at Pakistan’s Supreme Court, jailed former prime minister Imran Khan has alleged that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif was contesting the elections with the support of “two umpires” and one of them recently signalled a “no-ball” against him to sideline his party in the polls.
Making a veiled reference to the Supreme Court which stripped Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of its iconic cricket bat electoral symbol ahead of the February 8 elections, Khan blamed the “London Plan” for his party’s sidelining.
Speaking to reporters in Rawalpindi’s high-security Adiala Jail on Monday after hearing the Toshakhana corruption case, Khan, 71, said that three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif always plays matches with umpires of his choice, the Dawn newspaper reported.
“The day before yesterday, an umpire gave a no-ball,” he said, referring to the Supreme Court’s Saturday order that resulted in depriving the PTI of its iconic election “bat” symbol. Khan was referring to the powerful military and the Supreme Court as the “two umpires” who were favouring Sharif to become the prime minister for a record fourth time.
A three-member apex court panel upheld the December 22 decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) depriving the PTI party, founded by the cricketer-turned-politician, of its symbol for failing to hold transparent intra-party elections.
Khan said recent events that had sidelined the PTI and provided relief to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Sharif were part of the London Plan under which he would be locked up in jail during the elections.
The PTI alleges that under the ‘London Plan’, Sharif, 74, will be made prime minister in the wake of the February 8 polls with the blessing of the military establishment, while Khan and his party will be crushed.
Alleging that the Supreme Court is working under the London Plan, the PTI founder said that a five-member bench of the apex court should have heard the case related to the party’s electoral symbol and organisational polls as the case concerned Article 17 of the Constitution.
He added that Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, also took vehicles from the Toshakhana (state repository) for paltry sums but seemed “immune” to legal proceedings.
“However, all cases registered against the PML-N leaders are closed. However, when we are acquitted in one case, another case is registered without delay,” he said.
Talking about the implementation of the alleged plot, the deposed premier said that “all the cases against Sharif have been ended,” the report said.
Khan also alleged that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were also part of the London Plan. “People are kidnapped and tortured, and if they do not comply, they end up in the ICU,” he alleged.
The former prime minister said his opponents were afraid of his party because it would win the elections despite the recent setbacks.
“They are still afraid because people cannot be stopped…We have a Plan C,” he said and added that another plan would follow if it too was foiled.
Already Khan’s party tried to execute what it called Plan B by forging an alliance with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Nazriati but it failed, as the latter refused to enter into any alliance with the PTI.
Khan called for transparency while expressing doubts about the justice system, and called for broadcasting proceedings of his cases in the prison live.
“The Chief Justice is a Muslim and Allah Almighty has asked Muslims not to harbour excessive hatred even towards enemies. The Holy Qur’an is for all and our job is to remind,” he said.
Khan revealed that discussions had taken place with former Army Chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa despite the ouster of his government and free and fair elections were proposed as the solution to the country’s problems.
He categorically stated that his party had never acted against the military, recalling instances where PTI supporters did not retaliate even when gunfire was directed at them. He lamented the injustices suffered by some party members, leading them to leave the party.
The former premier said neither he nor his wife Bushra Bibi has had any contact with the powerful circles. “The Chief Election Commissioner has taken actions that no one has ever taken. Cowardly enemies have no ethics and the same actions have been taken by the election commissioner,” he added.
Meanwhile, the embattled PTI’s top leader, Barrister Gohar Khan, said on Monday that his party would not boycott the February 8 election despite being forced to contest without its cricket bat poll symbol.
“We won’t boycott the elections and, God willing, fully participate in them,” Gohar said, adding that the PTI party would issue a list of supported candidates with their respective electoral symbols within three days.
Bat is a traditional symbol of the PTI, and it is believed that by depriving the party of its iconic symbol, its candidates would have to contest on separate symbols, creating confusion among the party supporters in remote areas on the day of elections.

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