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EC failed to hold transparent polls, say govt ministers

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had failed to hold transparent elections. He expressed these views while addressing a hurriedly-called press conference along with other ministers. He said they had approached the Supreme Court for guidance and accepted the decision of the Supreme Court with an open heart.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan had decided to seek vote of confidence from the National Assembly, describing the victory of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on the general seat of Senate from the federal capital as negation of democracy . The PTI has unanimously decided that Prime Minister Imran Khan will seek a vote of confidence from the National Assembly, Qureshi said while addressing a press conference along with federal ministers Shafqat Mehmood, Asad Umar, Shireen Mazari, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Hammad Azhar and others. He said the victory of Gilani, the candidate of Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), also endorsed Prime Minister Imran Khan' s apprehensions of corrupt practices in the Senate elections.

To a question, he said the prime minister was encouraged to listen to the members of PTI; if the members were angry, then they would leave openly as some members did in Sindh.

On the other hand, terming the victory of former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in the Senate elections from Islamabad as a historic victory of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz, Pakistan Democratic President (PDM) Maulana Fazlur Rehman and others demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and asked him to leave the PM House.

“The PDM has won through the votes of members of Pakistan's assemblies. They say that Imran Khan was a big sportsman, and in sports you have an honourable and dishonorable defeat, so I think Imran Khan should not throw such tantrums,” the PPP chairman said while addressing a press conference along with Senator-elect Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani at the Zardari House, Islamabad, on Wednesday.

Bilawal said the people of Pakistan understand that the burden they're carrying right now, in the form of power, utility bills and essential commodities, is because of Imran Khan's incompetence. “Our goal right now is for this puppet government to go home so that people can be provided with some relief. This government, till now, has only tortured the people,” he said.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan should now resign honorably as not only the people of Pakistan but his own members had deserted him. Bilawal said that this is a new era in Pakistan's democratic journey. “I am going to meet the Opposition Leader Mian Shahbaz Sharif too,” he said.

He said this election isn't only about one seat because all of Pakistan had voted for this seat. “Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani was elected as the speaker of House and the prime minister and after today, God willing, he will be elected as the Senate chairman."

He said Imran Khan now should resign as his and PTI's failed economic policy had been rejected by the National Assembly. “We will decide ourselves when to use the option of no-confidence motion,” he said.

Responding to a question regarding the next step that is to be taken, Bilawal said that they will decide everything together in the PDM. Responding to another question regarding neutrality of the establishment, he said that he thinks what is most important is that we have won. He said the PDM has won through the votes of the members of Pakistan's assemblies.

The PPP chairman said that if you are not in the battlefield to begin with, winning is not even in question. “I thank the PDM and am grateful to my party members who have supported us, and have succeeded in doing so. We want the supremacy of democracy and for every institution to do its own job, when an institution will do another's work, then there will be issues,” he said.

As far as resignation is concerned, he said the whole PDM had a consensus that they would provide the resignations of all their members before the start of this year to the party leadership and they had done that. “We have contested the elections together and we will be united in the future as well,” he said.

He said the PPP knows that elections were rigged and we know that losing and winning is a part of it, but we should also have an equal playing field for everyone. “We believe that if there is an even playing field, the Pakistani people can elect representatives who are able to solve their issues,” he said.

He said, “If the night before the election, your opponent tries to get your candidate disqualified, you already expect their loss which is apparent by their desperate efforts as they are propaganda experts.”

Bilawal Bhutto said that Shah Mahmood Qureshi was a senior politician but he was crying like a child. "Instead of crying and showing hesitation, Qureshi should advise Imran Khan to resign," he said.

Former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said he was thankful to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as well as the PDM leadership, including PML-N's Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Akhtar Mengal, Maryam Nawaz, and ANP leadership, among others. He said this was the victory of democracy. "The Islamabad seat was the most important seat in the Senate elections and everyone was eyeing it,” he said.

Earlier, shortly after the announcement of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani's election as a senator from Islamabad, the PPP chairman had tweeted that "Democracy is the best revenge". Later, Chairman PPP Bilawal on Wednesday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised to dissolve the assembly if he lost the Islamabad Senate seat. “He lost. We won,” he said in a tweet from his twitter accounts on Wednesday night. Bilawal said now what’s stopping him. “Is Kaptaaan scared of elections,” he questioned.

Also, the PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz demanded of Prime Minister Imran Khan to quit as the Leader of the House in the National Assembly.

“You have no more justification to continue occupation of the Prime Minister's House. Vote Chorr Kursi Chor (Vote thief leave seat),” Maryam Nawaz in her immediate reaction on twitter said. Maryam said the people’s representatives have snatched back the fake mandate. “Their own people, while not succumbing to pressure, refused to vote criminal people, vote thief, sugar thief, electricity thief and atta thief,” she said. “Well done both members from the government and opposition benches,” she said.

The PML-N leader, while expressing thanks to Almighty Allah with whose blessings the PDM enjoyed victory on the crucial Islamabad seat, said it was also a victory of Nawaz Sharif’s narrative. She remarked that the people of Daska took revenge of the 2018 rigged elections, while public representatives, sitting in the National Assembly, settled the score of losing the Senate chairman elections. Maryam said the PML-N MNAs not only stood by Nawaz Sharif but also made him proud.

On the other hand, President of Pakistan Democratic Movement Maulana Fazlur Rehman, while talking to newsmen, said that Imran Khan should now admit that he has lost majority in the National Assembly. He demanded dissolution of assemblies and said the country should move towards fresh elections. “There is no justification for Imran Khan to remain in power and should admit that assemblies be dissolved,” he said. He claimed that Imran Khan himself wasted his vote and it was included in rejected ballot papers. “How a person who does not know how to poll vote can run the country?” he asked.

To a question, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, flanked by Bilawal Bhutto and Yusuf Raza Gilani, asked Imran Khan to immediately resign as the Prime Minister. "There is no need to seek the vote of confidence from the National Assembly as he has already lost majority in the House," he said, adding that time has gone for vote of confidence.

Fazlur Rehman said soon the PDM leadership would hold a meeting of parties' heads to finalise the future action plan, adding that they demanded fresh elections.

Ahsan Iqbal, who was also present on the occasion, said that winning the Senate seat from Islamabad was the first major step in moving towards real democracy for which the opposition was struggling.

To a question, Ahsan Iqbal said that Prime Minister Imran Khan himself fell victim to Ali Haider Gilani formula in which he was telling MNAs how to waste the ballot paper. "Prime Minister Imran Khan himself fell victim to the Ali Gilani formula," he said.

Bilawal Bhutto, accompanied by Gilani, visited Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his residence to express thanks for support in the Senate elections.

Earlier, the security staff disallowed Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Gilani to meet the opposition leader Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif at his residence in the Ministers' Enclave. The residence of Shahbaz Sharif has been declared as sub-jail.

Meanwhile, Secretary General PPPP Farhatullah Babar on Wednesday accepted his defeat in the Senate election from KP from where he was contesting as a joint candidate of the PDM and said he had lost the Senate electoral contest but win and loss were part of the election process and there were no complaints and no grouse against anyone. “I wish good luck to all those who won in the electoral contest against me in the province. I should like to believe that those who voted for the winning candidates in the KP did so by their own free will and call of their conscience,” he said while talking to The News on Wednesday.

Farhatullah Babar said he hoped that the PTI will likewise accept the welcome victory of Yusuf Raza Gilani in Islamabad as an expression of free will and call of conscience of the voters and not impute any ulterior motives to those who voted for Gilani.

Meanwhile, PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Bukhari, while responding to Firdous Ashiq Awan's statement issued here on Wednesday, said that the Supreme Court and the Election Commission had thwarted all the intentions of the selected Prime Minister Imran Khan. She asked Firdous Ashiq Awan to focus on her job and abstain from issuing big statements. An uprising was taking place in PTI and Firdous Ashiq Awan was talking about PDM, she said and maintained that some political dwarfs were trying to increase their stature by criticising Maryam Nawaz. She said the growing popularity of Maryam was being considered as an alarm bell for the Imrani gang.