–PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif fails to participate in joint Opp’s protest outside ECP office
–PPP’s Sherry Rehman says Opp parties will continue to protest against rigging ‘inside and outside parliament’
ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the joint opposition on Wednesday demanded the resignations of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) officials over alleged rigging and irregularities in the July 25 general election.
The demand was made during a protest demonstration outside the ECP. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, however, was not able to participate in the protest as his flight from Lahore to Islamabad got delayed due to bad weather, said party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb.
The decision to hold the protest was made by the newly formed 11-party grand opposition alliance, named ‘Pakistan Alliance for Free and Fair Elections’, at a multi-party conference held in Islamabad on Friday.
Apart from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the opposition alliance comprises Awami National Party (ANP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP) and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).
Fazlur Rehman, chief 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: “The only reason why all political parties have joined hands today is because the ECP failed to conduct free and fair elections.”
Rehman reiterated the opposition’s demand of resignations of senior ECP officials.
PPP’s Sherry Rehman, Khursheed Shah and Farhatullah Babar, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal were among the leaders who took part in the protest.
While speaking to reporters during the protest, PPP leader Sherry Rehman vowed to remain peaceful and demanded resignation from ECP officials.
“We will go to the Parliament and unite political parties,” she said.
Former interior minister and PML-N stalwart Ahsan Iqbal said they would ensure their demands are met and criticised PTI leader Imran Khan for withdrawing promises of vote recount in his own constituency.
“We will not allow anyone to rob masses of their right to rule. We will continue to protest until a leadership representative of masses’ will [rule Pakistan],”
“We want to tell the world that the public rejects [these] elections. We are united on this matter,” said PML-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq.
Workers numbering in hundreds gathered in the federal capital earlier in the day. The participants chanted slogans about their respective political parties as well as the alleged rigging.
The opposition leaders 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.
Earlier in the day, ANP and JUI-F workers blocked Peshawar-Islamabad motorway.