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August 10, 2018

Opp parties protest ‘rigging’ in polls


August 10, 2018

PESHAWAR: The leaders and activists of different political parties on Thursday staged a joint protest outside the office of the provincial Election Commission against what they called the worst rigging in the 2018 general elections, asking the chief election commissioner and the provincial election commissioners to quit for their ‘failure’ to ensure free and fair polls.

The security personnel had blocked different routes leading to the office of the Election Commission. However, a good number of protesters and party leaders managed to reach the building on Khyber Road and staged a demonstration there.

The demonstration was led by provincial president of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, secretary general of Awami National Party Mian Iftikhar Hussain, provincial chairman of Qaumi Watan Party Sikandar Hayat Sherpao, district president of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Sabir Hussain Awan, district president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Maulana Khairul Bashar, Ghulam Ali, Asif Iqbal Daudzai, Hafiz Hashmat Khan, district president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Haji Sifat Khan, Arbab Khizer Hayat and others.

On the occasion, the speakers condemned the blockade of different roads for the protesters. They said the government had resorted to cheap tactics to deny the right of protest to the people. However, such tactics would not stop them from holding protests, they added.

The road blockades also resulted in severe traffic jams at various points, especially at the Suri Pul. The motorists and even pedestrians suffered badly due to the traffic jams.

The speakers said that a conspiracy had been hatched to bring a particular party - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) - into power and the mandate of all the other political forces was stolen to push the country towards a civil war. This policy would certainly bear very serious repercussions, they said.

They rejected what they referred to as selection in the name of election and the organised rigging.

The speakers alleged that the Election Commission had badly failed to fulfil its responsibility and they had no justification to stay in their offices. They said all the top officials of the election commission should quit immediately.

They said that state institutions were used in the election to secure victory for the PTI. They also expressed serious reservations over the decision of the chief justice of Pakistan to suspend recounting and said that the decision has posed a serious question on the independence of the judiciary.

The speakers were of the opinion that the chief justice should take suo moto notice of the massive rigging in the elections. They said the opposition alliance would continue the protest till re-elections were held in a free and transparent manner.

The opposition party leaders urged those backing the ‘fake mandate’ to review their role. They added that a ‘fake government’ cannot solve the problems of the masses. They declared that they would not accept the ‘fake election’, ‘fake government’, and ‘fake prime minister.’

Speaking on the occasion, ANP general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that the opposition’s protest against the Election Commission of Pakistan has frightened the government.

The ANP leader said the ECP had played the role of the B-team of a specific political party.

Mian Iftikhar said that the deployment of police and security personnel and blocking of the routes leading to the ECP office manifested the government anxiety over the protest.

He said the government move was an attack on democratic values. “The opposition has given a call for a peaceful protest against rigging in the general election,” he said, adding that the opposition would not accept the violation of the masses’ rights.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain criticised the role of the media in the election, saying that the media should not act as a mouthpiece of government but portray the real picture to the masses. “We struggled for the freedom of the press and supported journalists when they were facing a difficult situation,” he claimed and demanded the media to ensure that politicians’ voice reaches the masses as it was for democracy and democratic institutions.