ISLAMABAD: When most political parties are crying over the failure of the authorities to provide them a level playing field, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) claims that the July 25 elections will be the fairest of all the elections so far held in the country.

“For the first time in the country’s history, fair elections are going to be held,” said PTI’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhry while talking to Dawn here on Saturday.

He said that his party was so far “fully satisfied” with the performance of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and they had firm belief that this time the ECP would succeed in conducting the elections in a free and transparent manner.

PPP, PML-N allege state machinery is trying to ensure PTI emerges as victorious in the polls

Mr Chaudhry, who is himself contesting the election on a National Assembly seat from Jhelum, refuted the allegations of the parties, particularly by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), that the PTI was being supported by the establishment and all-out efforts were being made to make the party victorious in the elections.

“Actually, this time no party is getting support from anywhere,” he claimed, alleging that the PPP and the PML-N people were crying because they knew that they could not win the elections.

“We are too big for them this time,” he said, claiming that the PTI would secure more than 90 per cent seats in the National Assembly.

On the other hand, both the PPP and the PML-N allege that the whole state machinery is behind the move to ensure that the PTI emerges as victorious after the elections.

During the previous Senate sitting, the members of the PPP and the PML-N had lashed out at the ECP and the caretaker government for their alleged failure to provide a level playing field to them and questioned the “larger role” given to the army in the conduct of elections. The two parties are also critical of the role of the institutions, particularly the judiciary, the ECP and National Accountability Bureau (NAB). They also alleged that the media was being pressurised to blackout their campaigns and to telecast the election activities of only one political party.

PPP stalwart and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani stated that the July 25 polls had already become “controversial due to meddling” by an institution and “failure” of the ECP to play its constitutional role.

Mr Rabbani said the PPP had even named the army’s colonels and majors interfering in the poll process. He alleged that the candidates were being pressurised to either change their parties or withdraw from the race. “NAB can only see two parties. The third one is invisible to it. The lotas (turncoats) who had switched allegiance and joined a different party, are they above blame now? Why are they not being held accountable?” he asked.

Mr Chaudhry said that those who “used to play with their own umpires” were now frightened even before the start of the game.

The PTI leader said that the news conference of PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif earlier in the day was “an absurd attempt to hide the humiliation his party faced on the roads of Lahore on Friday”.

He said Shahbaz Sharif failed to gather a few thousands of people despite manipulations, threats and bribes. He said the statement of the former Punjab chief minister about electoral results was a manifestation of his acceptance of defeat in the polls.

Mr Chaudhry said after the Avenfield reference, Al Azizia and Flagship investment references would further “expose the corrupt face of Sharif mafia before the nation”.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2018

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