Opposition parties protest ‘rigged election’ outside ECP

Opposition parties protest ‘rigged election’ outside ECP
Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman (C), a Pakistan opposition leader arrives to a protest outside the election commission office against the alleged election rigging in Islamabad on August 8, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 08 August 2018

Opposition parties protest ‘rigged election’ outside ECP

Opposition parties protest ‘rigged election’ outside ECP
  • Mandate stolen and given to Imran Khan, allege former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders
  • Opposition parties accuse military of meddling in polls

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s joint political opposition, comprising all major political parties that lost to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during last month’s general elections, staged a strong but peaceful protest outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and cried foul over the final poll results on Wednesday.
“This protest is against the historic rigged election of the country. This is the stolen mandate of Pakistan which has been given to Mr.[Imran] Khan. There are questions that have been raised against the transparency of the election as well as the demands of all political parties, part of the alliance for free and fair elections,” said Maryam Aurangzeb, spokesperson of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), listing the opposition’s concerns to Arab News.
Led by senator Raja Zafarful Haq, chairman of PML-N — the party that secured second highest number of seats at national level including Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab — the protest included top politicians, supporters, and workers from the Pakistan People’s Party, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, and Awami National Party (ANP).
Some of the political notables present were former foreign minister Khawaja Asif, former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, ex-Premier Yousaf Raza Gillani, ex-information minister Sherry Rehman, Aitizaz Ahsan, Chaudhry Tanzir, Fazlur Rehman, Mian Aslam, Naveed Qamar, Abid Sher Ali, Farhatullah Babar, Qamar Zaman Qaira, Javed Hashmi, Chaudhry Tanvir, Mehmood Khan Achakzai and, last but not least, Mian Iftikhar.
Shehbaz Sharif, former chief minister of Punjab and brother of imprisoned ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, however, was unable to participate in the demonstration said PML-N members.
The politicians raised slogans against Imran Khan, his party, the military establishment accused of allegedly aiding the cricket-legend-turned-politician’s victory, and the ECP demanding the resignations of its senior officials.
“This protest was organized by political parties but the public has joined our cause cognizant of the mass election rigging and theft of their mandate,” said PML-N leader Mian Latif Javed.
“The formation of a selective government will not resolve the challenges faced by Pakistan. Only a democratic government elected by the people can succeed,” Javed told Arab News.
Demonstrators holding party flags, estimated in the hundreds, disbursed after a few hours of speeches and chanting, and rejecting the election results amid lax security.
ANP leader Sardar Hussain Babak categorically accused the country’s military of meddling in the elections. He told Arab News: “The election commission has acted criminally against the constitution, resulting in a selection instead of an election.”
He demanded a free and fair re-election and stressed that “intelligence agencies and the army should stop interfering in political and civilian affairs. Leave democracy to the will of the people. Till our demands are met we will continue our campaign.”