AUG 8, 2018: Opposition parties parliamentarians and supporters of grand opposition alliance on Wednesday staged a sit-in outside the election commission headquarters in capital Islamabad.
The opposition alliance says it has rejected the results of July 25 election results as “rigged” and “manipulated” vowing to continue the protest outside the parliament and across the country.
“We don’t accept rigged elections,” “Down with rigged elections” and “Fake elections are unacceptable” were among slogans chanted by protesters belonging to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s party (PPP), five-party religious alliance Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA), and several nationalist parties.
The PML(N) President Shehbaz Sharif, who is opposition’s joint candidate for the prime minister, could not fly to the capital from Lahore city due to bad weather, the party’s spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb told reporters.
Contingents of anti-riot police and paramilitary troops lined the road as former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, MMA president Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, former opposition leader Syed Khursheeed Shah and PML-N chairman Raja Zafar ul Haq marched towards the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) office.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of former cricket hero Imran Khan has emerged as the single largest party in the wake of last month’s elections and poised to form government at the Center.
But the opposition parties claim they found “irregularities” in pre and post elections process, including non-provision of “level-playing field to all the participants”.
The ECP, however, rejects the allegations as “baseless.”
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and president of the MMA, who arrived after the protest had been going on for a few hours, said “July 25 elections were the worst elections in the country’s history. The people of Pakistan have rejected the rigging and manipulation.” Fazl, lost elections in his two home constituencies.
Demanding the formation of a special commission to probe into rigging allegations, he said the chief election commissioner failed to conduct free and fair elections, therefore, “he should resign from his office”.
Fazl’s remarks were supported by Gilani, who too dubbed the July 25 elections as the “worst elections in Pakistan’s history”.
Leaders of the PML-N, according to Dawn, refused to address the gathering when they were invited to do so.
PPP’s Sherry Rehman and Farhatullah Babar, and PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal were among the leaders who took part in the protest.
The opposition leaders have also decided to register a strong protest inside and outside parliament during the first sitting of the National Assembly, which according to Caretaker Information Minister Barrister Ali Zafar on Wednesday would be called between August 12-14.