PPP stalwarts Raza Rabbani and Sherry Rehman on Thursday expressed grave reservations over the fairness of this month's general elections, and cited a series of incidents to make their case.

Rabbani, the former chairman Senate, claimed that the July 25 polls have already been made controversial due to "meddling and the Elections Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) failure to perform its constitutional role".

"The court allowed Pervez Musharraf to contest polls," he said. "How can a person convicted under Article 6 be allowed to contest polls? Musharraf did not return himself, which is why the court had to take its decision back."

Rabbani also took aim at the ECP's decision to extend the voting time to 10 hours, possibly at the request of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. "How could they extend the voting time on the request of a single party," he asked.

Rabbani also claimed that "PPP candidates are being pressured into either changing parties or withdraw their candidatures".

"Those who are exerting this pressure have been named also," he added. "Where is the defence minister? He should come and explain this pressure."

Rabbani also criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), saying: "NAB can only see two parties. The third one is invisible to it. The lotas (turncoats) who switched allegiance and joined a different party, are they above blame now? Why are they not being held accountable?"

Furthermore, the former senator demanded that "the ECP should take the parliament in confidence regarding the deployment of the army and the powers given to its personnel [for elections]."

In May, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob had warned that the upcoming elections could be sabotaged — remarks that Rabbani now wants an explanation on.

"The ECP secretary commented about meddling in elections," Rabbani said. "It is necessary to know what made him retract that statement."

Senator Rehman, who had a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan today, echoed Rabbani's sentiments.

"Our party is being stopped from running its election campaign," she said. "First grade magisterial powers are being given to people other than the presiding officers.

"Some parties are being rewarded while a few are being targeted.

"Proscribed organisations' candidates are being brought to the forefront, while our candidates are being disqualified."

Rabbani said that "some people want the elections to not take place on July 25" — an idea Rehman said that their party is not in favour of.


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