LAHORE, April 3: All the four mainstream political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and the Tehreek-i-Insaf have opposed the inclusion of a blank column into the ballot paper as announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday.

PML-N President Nawaz Sharif was quoted as responding to the ECP decision by saying that the decision was not in the benefit of democracy.

He wondered that why a voter would come to a polling station if they did not want to vote a candidate.

He demanded that the ECP review its decision, adding that in line with civilized societies all people should to polling stations to use their right to franchise.

PPP Secretary-General Sardar Latif Khosa rejected the column, saying the column showed that the efforts were still underway to malign and discredit politicians. “Why a person goes to the polling station if he is not interested in casting the vote. This column may be used against democracy at some point of time,” he said and urged the ECP to remove the column.

A PTI spokesperson also endorsed the demand arguing it could go against democratic setup.

PML-Q Information Secretary Kamil Ali Agha says it seems the ECP had gone crazy by introducing a column for ‘indecisive voters’ and called upon the authorities concerned to review the decision.

Protest: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz activists belonging to the PP-149 constituency, Lahore continued their protest on Wednesday to stop the party from nominating former Punjab Assembly deputy speaker Rana Mashhood as its candidate in the constituency.

A group of Mashhood’s opponents demonstrated at Yateem Khana intersection in the constituency, while the other approached party’s Model Town office, where parliamentary board has been meeting for the last seven days with Nawaz Sharif in the chair to decide party candidates for the general election.

Two of the protesting party workers wearing shirts having ‘go Mashhood go’ slogan climbed up an electricity pole to get attention of the party leadership, but no one turned up to assure them that only a local candidate would be given ticket for the seat.

Mashhood belongs to the Vehari district, but has been living in the provincial capital for the last many years. He won the last two general elections from the same constituency. — Amjad Mahmood

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