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PPP calls for resignation of chief election commissioner

Updated July 28, 2013
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah. — File photo
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, has called for resignation of the chief election commissioner and all four members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for “failing to protect their independence”.

Talking to Dawn on Saturday, the PPP leader said his party would raise the issue of the “partiality” allegedly shown by the ECP in the lead-up to the presidential election during sessions of the National Assembly and Senate on Monday.

Sources in the PPP told Dawn that the opposition members would lodge a protest in the two houses through points of order.

The sources said leaders of the opposition in the NA and Senate, Syed Khurshid Shah and Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, would raise the matter and explain the reason for the party’s decision to boycott the presidential election after the Supreme Court allowed the ECP to advance the polling date to July 30 from Aug 6 at the PML-N’s request.

“The chief election commissioner, along with all the four members, should immediately resign,” said Mr Shah, who was head of the parliamentary committee that had approved the appointments of retired justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim as the CEC and the other ECP members.

He said through the 18th and 20th amendments, the ECP had been made a powerful and independent institution, but regretted that it had abdicated its powers and independence. “The May 11 elections were RO (returning officers) elections and the presidential election is the chief RO election,” he alleged.

The PPP leader said his party would never accept the results of the “manipulated presidential election” and continue to raise its voice against the alleged “nexus between the PML-N government, the ECP and the courts”.

Mr Shah also lashed out at the PML-N for seeking the Muttahida’s support for its presidential candidate.

“In my speech in the assembly (on Monday), I will congratulate Mian Sahab (PM Nawaz Sharif) for joining hands with the MQM and remind him about a resolution which the PML-N had moved in an all-party conference in London terming the MQM a terrorist party,” he said.

Mr Shah said since the PPP had announced boycott of the presidential election, its members would not attend sessions of the provincial assemblies and the parliament on the polling day.

A PPP senator told Dawn that his party would also raise other matters of public importance in the Senate.

Farhatullah Babar, a PPP Senator and the presidency’s spokesman, in a statement on Saturday again asked the government to provide complete details of payment of Rs480 billion made to settle the circular debt of Rs503bn.

JUI-F UNDECIDED: Meanwhile, the JUI-F announced on Saturday that so far it had not decided about its vote in the July 30 presidential election.

Sources said the JUI-F, which is sitting on the treasury benches at the centre, wanted to join the Balochistan government as well and was using this demand as a bargain during the presidential election. But the PML-N is facing a strong opposition from its nationalist allies on the issue of including the JUI-F in the ruling coalition in the province.

Talking to Dawn after a meeting of the JUI-F Majlis-i-Shoora here, party’s spokesman Jan Achakzai said that the Balochistan chapter of the party had shown serious concerns over the political situation in the province.

He said the JUI-F was a genuine stakeholder in Balochistan, but it had been ignored.

Mr Achakzai said that some initial contact had been made by the PML-N on the Balochistan issue, but the JUI-F was awaiting further discussion on it.

He clarified that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, during his recent meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had exclusively focused on the law and order situation in Balochistan. He said the Maulana had complained to the prime minister that the JUI-F was not taken on board on several issues.