‘Victim Card Could Be Narrative’: Pakistan Caretaker PM As PTI, PPP Allege Bias Ahead Of Polls


Islamabad, Nov 20 (PTI) Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has said that those involved in the unprecedented attacks on security installations on May 9 this year must not go unpunished and should be tried by military courts.

In an interview with Geo News on Sunday, Kakar referred to the May 9 incidents in Pakistan following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan in an alleged corruption case.

Kakar said that if the people attack an institution, which is responsible for saving the country from anarchy, they should be tried in military courts as per the law.

On the government’s appeal against the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down military trials of civilians allegedly involved in the May 9 violence, Kakar said: “It is quite justified that if anybody attacked any military installation, he or she must be tried in military courts.” The prime minister also dispelled the impression that his government is biased against some political parties, underlining that holding general elections and handing over responsibilities to the elected government was his utmost priority.

Reacting to concerns voiced by two major political parties about the “transparency” of the upcoming general election in Pakistan, Kakar on Sunday night said the “victim card” could be a “narrative” of any political party.

He said political parties normally tried to attract their voters in different ways and such allegations might be their tactics.

Pakistan is going to the polls on February 8 next year.

As the general elections draw closer, former prime minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and former president Asif Ali Zardari-led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have repeatedly been complaining that they are being denied a level-playing field in the run-up to polls.

The two mainstream parties alleged the caretaker government was giving “preferential treatment” to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and that attempts were being made to pave the way for PML-N’s return to power.

Earlier, PPP Vice-President Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had complained about his party never receiving a level playing field, saying the PPP had been persistently voicing concerns regarding the absence of equal opportunities to prove itself ahead of the polls.

On the other hand, amid reports of minus Imran Khan elections, the PTI had also accused the interim government of denying them a level playing field.

The PTI chairman is behind bars in Adiala Jail and his party’s leadership claims that they are not allowed to run even an election campaign.

In a bid to clear the air, Kakar in an interview with the Geo News on Sunday night said: “Holding the elections at the earliest is our utmost priority.” “We want to hand over the responsibilities to the [upcoming] elected government,” he said.

Responding to a question about the allegations levelled against his government by the two mainstream parties, the premier asked: “What have we done that [a negative] impression is being given that we have a biased [attitude against] any political party?” He asked if his government had “imprisoned the former prime minister [Imran Khan]?” Kakar further clarified that the deposed prime minister – who was removed from office in April last year via a no-confidence motion – was apprehended before the caretaker setup was formed in August.

Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician was arrested from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore soon after being convicted in the Toshakhana case on August 5.

However, Kakar — a former senator and a leader of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) — took oath as the eighth caretaker prime minister of Pakistan on August 14.

The premier said that Khan was legally arrested and facing the charges in the court.

Kakar said it would have been wrong had Khan been “acquitted of all the charges via a royal decree”.

The caretaker prime minister said that they could not do so legally. “Think 10 times before hurling allegations,” he added.

“The PTI chairman is safe in jail,” he said, adding that it is their legal responsibility to ensure the safety of the incarcerated former premier.

“Nobody has personal enmity with the PTI chairman,” Kakar said while rejecting reports claiming a threat to his life.

Responding to a question, he also rejected the allegations that the caretaker government was seeking to “take personal revenge” on 71-year-old Khan.

Like other political parties, PTI leaders are engaged in electioneering in their respective areas in the run-up to the February 8 polls, he added.

In a strong message to the government in Kabul, Kakar asked the Afghan Taliban to decide whether they themselves would take action against those terrorists who were using their soil to carry out attacks in Pakistan or hand them over to Islamabad.

Terror activities in cash-strapped Pakistan have soared by 79 per cent during the first half of 2023, according to a statistical report released by the independent think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS).

These figures represent a staggering increase in militant attacks compared to the corresponding period last year.

Pakistan blamed the incumbent government in Kabul for the recent spike in terrorism in the country and asked the Taliban regime multiple times to stop the cross-border attacks and use of Afghan soil against the neighbouring country.

Kakar said the interim Taliban government’s inaction over terror activities against Pakistan was unacceptable.

To a question about the rising tensions between Islamabad and Kabul, Kakar said: “My prime role is as a citizen of Pakistan and my loyalty is connected with the State.” Stressing the need for action against the terrorists, the prime minister said the Afghan government knew about the hideouts of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the war-torn country.

Speaking about the government’s crackdown against illegal foreigners after the November 1 deadline, Kakar said tough decisions had to be taken to run the state affairs.

“All Afghans are equally important for Pakistan,” he added.

He said the government was not repatriating registered Afghan refugees and only undocumented Afghan citizens were being deported. 

(This report has been published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. Apart from the headline, no editing has been done in the copy by ABP Live.)

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