ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: The PPP said on Tuesday that an attempt was being made to keep it out of the electoral process.
Addressing a press conference, PPP Secretary General Latif Khosa said top leaders of his party were being disqualified by returning officers and election tribunals, apparently to weaken its position in the May 11 polls.
Without naming the powers behind the alleged move to corner the PPP, Mr Khosa said: “We don’t need a toothless election commission.”
An election tribunal had turned down an appeal of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Monday.
“Returning officers and election tribunals are working on an agenda which is not based on transparency and fair play,” he alleged, adding that the pre-poll rigging was being committed against the PPP.
He said tribunals were supposed to work under the election commission, but it appeared that they were working on someone else’s agenda.
The PPP leader said his party would contest the elections at any cost even if its top leaders were kept away from the electoral process. “Even if PPP’s main candidates are disqualified, their substitutes will win the polls,” he said.
Mr Khosa said that ROs had accepted nomination papers of several candidates who had been convicted or found guilty in different cases, but PPP leaders, including Mr Ashraf, were disqualified only on the basis of some allegations which had yet to be proved in court.
He said nomination papers of former speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Fehmida Mirza, were checked even after the RO had accepted them. But papers of her opponent Yasmeen Shah, who possessed no tax number, had been accepted.
He said a PML-N leader from Rawalpindi had been allowed to take part in the polls despite his alleged involvement in the ephedrine case.He said some hidden powers had sabotaged the PPP’s election plan under which former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was to lead the party’s campaign in south Punjab, Mr Ashraf in Potohar and former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah in Sindh.
Mr Khosa said that Mr Gilani and Mr Ashraf who were considered to be the face of the party had been disqualified. In a statement issued in Lahore, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said that Mr Ashraf’s disqualification would raise serious questions about the electoral process.
“No one is guilty until proved to be so. If disqualification is to be carried out merely on the basis of allegations, then it will not be possible to find a single candidate to contest the elections in view of the political environment of Pakistan,” he said.