Justice Markandey Katju: Imran Khan’s serious mistake

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju–

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

For long I have been supporting former Prime Minister Imran Khan for his brave fight against the fascist forces in Pakistan, and his struggle for restoration of democracy by free and fair elections, even while incarcerated in jail since early August last year.

I regard him as basically honest, in contrast to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders whom I regard as a gang of dacoits (as the Panama Papers etc disclose).

However, I believe he is making a serious mistake. From the video talk of Moeed Pirzada, the eminent Pakistani journalist I gathered that Imran Khan is allying himself with the Sunni Ittehad Council and other religious groups in Pakistan. In fact, Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), obviously under his instructions, is negotiating dubious deals in order to come to power.

One objective of this move is to get the 60 parliamentary seats reserved for women and minorities. The PTI seems to be desperate to come to power by hook or crook.

I had criticized Khan in 2018 when, during the election campaign, he had taken support of religious extremists and given PTI tickets to dubious ‘electables’. Though taking support of religious reactionary groups was wrong, one can understand that at that time the PTI was still relatively weak as compared to the PMLN and PPP, and Khan wanted wider public support.

He does not need it in 2024, with almost 90% Pakistanis solidly support him (as all opinion polls indicate). All, except a few diehards, admit that there was large-scale rigging in the February 8 parliamentary elections in Pakistan.

Pakistanis refuse to accept the results of this sham election. What should they do about it? I have articulated that that the only way out is fresh elections, under the supervision of the UN or another reputed international agency, with the army confined to their barracks. Some people say that there is no need for a re-election, and a fresh count of Form 45 (which gives the result of each polling station) would show that PTI has won close to 170 seats.

I do not agree. When the entire election process is corrupted and tampered with, how can one be sure that Form 45 too has not been doctored and falsified? When there is mass cheating in an examination, the entire examination has to be canceled and a fresh one held. One cannot cancel only the results of the candidates caught cheating, because who is to say who was cheating and who wasn’t. The same logic applies for this fraudulent and sham election, which seems more like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, or the fictional Eatanswill election depicted by Dickens in his ‘Pickwick Papers‘.

Unless fresh elections are held, which are transparent, free and fair, terrible times are coming to Pakistan. There will be no stability, and some form of civil war is bound to arise.

Unfortunately, Imran Khan seems to have ruled out fresh elections, and has opted for recount of the Forms 45/47. He also seems to be seeking to create an alliance with dubious and reactionary extremist groups, like the Sunni Ittehad Council, a cardinal mistake. He does not need shady, questionable alliances, which will be problematic for him in the future.

Instead, he should demand fresh elections under international supervision to ensure they are free and fair. Instead of pandering to religious reactionary elements. He should address the economic problems causing untold suffering to the Pakistani masses, and give assurances to minorities for safeguarding their interests.

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