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PESHAWAR: Awami National Party has expressed reservations over the decision of Election Commission of Pakistan to deploy security personnel inside the polling stations, fearing it will strengthen doubts about poll rigging for bringing a certain party into the power.

Also read: The ECP has given magisterial powers to army officers on election duty, but what does that really mean?

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, ANP former senator Ilyas Ahmed Bilour said that other political parties had objected to deployment of army personnel inside the polling stations and hurdles in their election campaign. He said that ECP should ensure free, fair and impartial elections.

On the occasion, PPP senior worker Mohammad Iqbal Khan along with his relatives quit his party and announced to join ANP. ANP district president Malik Mustafa, candidate for PK-76 Haji Hidayatullah and candidate for PK-77 Haji Umer Khan Mohmand were also present on the occasion.

Expressing his shock over the killing of his nephew Haroon Bilour and other workers in a suicide bombing in Peshawar, the ANP leader said that it was irreparable loss. He said that the tragedy disturbed the election campaign but his party was in the field to take part in the elections.

Seeks protection for workers; Ghulam Bilour backtracks from remarks about perpetrators of Peshawar blast

Regarding investigation into the suicide blast case, Mr Bilour said that nobody had approached his family members in connection with the probe. He said that his party believed in democracy and would bring reforms in government departments. He said that during the past five years, PTI had done nothing for public welfare in the province rather ruined infrastructure in Peshawar.

Speaking on the occasion, other ANP leaders alleged that only one political party was running election campaign freely while others were facing problems in the drive. They urged government to provide protection to political workers and candidates so that they could continue the campaign wholeheartedly.

Iqbal Khan said that the PPP leadership had forgotten the mission of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto to provide basic facilities to the people.

“I have served PPP for 45 years and endured a lot of troubles for its promotion but the party leaders are not ready to encourage sincere workers so I quit it,” he added.

Meanwhile, ANP senior vice president Ghulam Ahmad Bilour has said that Chief justice of Supreme Court Justice Saqib Nisar should not have ordered to withdraw security from politicians.

“I have respect for the chief justice. But he should not interfere in administrative affairs,” he told journalists at his residence here on Monday. He said that chief justice should not issue order to the executive to withdraw security from politicians.

The ANP leader backtracked from his statement in which he had stated that “our own people, who have benefited” from his nephew’s murder, not Taliban, were involved in the suicide attack occurred in Peshawar last week.

“I never said that Taliban did not kill Haroon. I stated that those people, who got most advantage from the killing of Haroon, were involved. I don’t understand as to why we are being targeted,” said Mr Bilour.

He said that they had collected some information and security agencies would also have collected evidence about the perpetrators, who had planned the suicide attack in Yakatoot.

Haroon Bilour, who was ANP candidate for PK-78, was killed along with 21 others when suicide bomber attacked the corner meeting of ANP in Yakatoot last week. Around 30 people were wounded in the blast. Proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mr Bilour said that his slain nephew needed security. He said that terrorists could easily target politicians. “The chief justice should not withdraw security from politicians,” he said. He expressed dissatisfaction over security arrangements for the elections.

He said that terrorists could not scare ANP workers through such acts and the party would resume its election campaign on Tuesday. He added that he had no objection if Haroon’s widow was interested in contesting the elections. He said that he would support his nephew’s widow in the by-election on PK-78.

Meanwhile, former interior minister Senator Rehman Malik visited Bilour House on Monday to condole the death of Haroon Bilour.

Talking to media after condolence, he said that Daesh, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and TTP were involved in terrorism. He said that presence of Daesh in the country was a reality as it had joined hands with TTP and LJ to carry out activities.

Mr Malik said that political parties should chalk out joint strategy to thwart the threat. He said that caretaker government should convene all-party conference before elections and seek opinion of political parties on that vital issue.

Published in Dawn, July 17th , 2018