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Opposition closes ranks to battle it out

Top Story

July 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The major opposition parties on Monday decided to form a grand alliance for launching a movement against the alleged rigging and stolen mandate both inside and outside parliament.

The announcement of grand opposition alliance was made in a press conference after a meeting attended by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Awami National Party (ANP) and National Party.

It was also decided that a strategy for future parliamentary cooperation would be devised at the all parties conference (APC), which would be convened within the next few days. According to sources, though the JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman had conveyed his serious reservations about going into parliament, the PPP and PML-N convinced him to reverse his decision.

The PPP and PML-N also agreed with the proposal to continue the numbers game in order to form their governments at the Centre and thwart the PTI’s efforts in this regard. It was also decided to take on board the political parties from Balochistan for the grand opposition alliance in and outside parliament.

It was also agreed that a white paper on alleged rigging will also be issued from the platform of the grand opposition alliance, which will be decided at the APC in the next two to three days.

“The parties will play the role of a strong opposition both inside and outside parliament as a grand opposition alliance,” former prime minister Yusuf Raza told newsmen after the opposition parties’ meeting.

He was accompanied by the MMA chief Fazlur Rehman, PML-N Chairman Senator Raja Zafarul Haq and Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of Awami National Party. Gilani said a joint strategy would be devised at the APC that would be convened in the next two to three days.

”The APC will formulate its future strategy against rigging and also invite those who were not part of the APC to give their opinion,” he said. Gilani said all the opposition parties had also condemned alleged forced censorship and involvement of non-state elements in the general election.

Speaking on the occasion, MMA chief and JUI-F Amir Fazlur Rehman said a ‘robbery’ had been committed to steal the mandate of the people, which will not be tolerated.

“This is the first time that the parties which contested against each other cried foul in the elections and came up on the same page to launch a joint struggle against ‘rigging’ and theft of the public mandate,” Fazl said.

He said the entire world, theestablishment and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should note that there had been no instance of unanimous rejection of election results by all the political parties in the political history of Pakistan and those stealing the mandate of masses should be ashamed of themselves.

Fazl said the international community and EU observers were also saying that rigging had taken place. “We have serious reservations about the forced media censorship and protests against rigging are not being shown,” he added. He said though there was an agreement among all the political parties for launching a joint movement from the platform of grand opposition alliance, two or three issues were yet to be finalised at the platform of APC. “We have decided to launch a joint struggle against ‘rigging’ and ‘stolen mandate’,” he said.

Senior PML-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq said the Election Commission of Pakistan (RCP) had remained ineffective in the conduct of election and demanded the resignation of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (R) Sardar Muhammad Raza. “Maulana Fazlur Rehman will also convince the parties in the APC which opted not to sit in parliament so that they could also be on board at the forum of the grand opposition alliance,” he said.

ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed said the alleged rigging had exposed the establishment and now they should realise that it was not their job to interfere in the election. “These stains can’t wash off easily,” he said.

Asked if the PPP will support the PML-N in the Punjab for the formation of government, Gilani said the numbers game was being considered and it could be discussed in the APC for formulating a joint strategy not only for the Centre, but also for the provinces. The PPP delegation led by former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and Syed Khursheed Shah included Senator Sherry Rehman, Naveed Qamar, Qamar Zaman Kaira and former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif led his party’s delegation, which included Khawaja Saad Rafique, Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal among others. Haji Ghulam Bilour and Mian Iftikhar led the ANP delegation, while Fazlur Rehman and Maulana Anas Noorani represented the MMA.

Earlier, a PPP delegation, comprising Yusuf Raza Gilani, Khursheed Shah, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Senator Sherry Rehman, met Senator Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party. Bizenjo supported the PPP’s stance on launching a joint struggle against rigging in parliament.

Talking to newsmen after the meeting, Senator Hasil Bizenjo said the National Party agreed with the PPP that parliament should be used as a forum to take up the issue of rigging in the elections.