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Marriyum rules out early elections, says govt to complete term

Updated 22 Apr, 2022
<p>Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb addresses a press conference in Islamabad. Screengrab via YouTube/PTV News</p>

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb addresses a press conference in Islamabad. Screengrab via YouTube/PTV News

Responding to PTI chief Imran Khan’s demand for early elections, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on Friday said that general elections would be held after the completion of the tenure of the coalition government.

As per the Constitution, general elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan less than 60 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly, which is set to dissolve on 13 August 2023. This means that the election must be held by or before 12 October 2023.

Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, the government spokesperson called PTI’s public gathering in Lahore on Thursday an “Imrani circus”.

“Last night, an Imrani circus, which is underway in Pakistan, resumed [in Lahore] and the cassette of speech got stuck,” she said in an apparent jibe at the ousted premier.

Imran continued his tirade against the incumbent government and reiterated his demand for early election. According to Imran, the coalition government was “selected” as it was apparently afraid of early elections.

“In the next election, there will not be RTS [result transmission system] or [stuffed ballot] boxes and ECP staff will not allow any theft,” she remarked in an apparent reference to the RTS failure during the last election. The failure caused delay in vote count and resulted in allegations of vote rigging.

“Poor performance”

The information minister alleged that around 20 million fell below the poverty line in the former government’s tenure and six million people lost their jobs. “Because of you [PTI], the inflation rate shot to 16%, flour price increased from Rs35/kg to Rs90/kg, sugar per kilogram price jacked up from Rs52 to Rs120,” she said while accusing Imran Khan of being cahoots with “sugar cartels”.

Volley of accusations

She accused the PTI government of “selling Kashmir and becoming the manager of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

On the foreign funding case that is being heard by the ECP, Marriyum claimed that the former premier laundered Rs7.3 million through foreign funding.

Speaking about the controversy surrounding the Toshakhana case, she said that Imran Khan would have to answer about the gifts that he retained.

“Never in 41 years your wealth increases so much as it did from 2018-2019 when you retained all expensive items at 20%,” she said, while claiming that Imran had documents doctored to reflect that the gifts were retained at 50%.

Reacting to the Imran’s statement defending his decision to sell the gifts that he purchased from the state depository (Toshakhana), she said: “You purchased Rs140 million of gift for 30 million at 20% of fave value but then have documents show they were acquried at 50%,” she continued.

She claimed that the Imran sold one of the watches for Rs180 million. “Provide receipts and tell us from where you got the money to purchase those 58 gifts [from the Toshakhana].”