ISLAMABAD: The senators, mainly belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), on Monday expressed serious concerns over “ongoing efforts of mainstreaming banned and militant organisations by allowing them to contest the elections” and warned that “another engineered and maneuvered elections” would endanger the existence of the federation.
“The interior minister should be summoned and asked as to how members of the banned organisations have been allowed to contest the elections from one platform or the other. How the names of people were removed in the darkness of night from the Fourth Schedule?” remarked former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani while taking part in a debate on the Mastung terror attack in the Senate.
Alleging interference in the electoral process, he said the “establishment” had not learnt any lesson from history. He said in the past the Pakistan National Alliance, Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal were formed by these forces. He, however, said all these right-wing groups had people with parliamentary experience, but now under a new phenomenon, “these traditional allies have been abandoned and efforts are on to mainstream religious far-right and militant organisations”.
He stated the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, which had staged a sit-in at Rawalpindi’s Faizabad on the Khatm-i-Nabuwat issue, had fielded 150 candidates whereas another group with the name of Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek had fielded 50 candidates for National Assembly seats.
“You have over 200 candidates of militant organisations contesting the election. What will happen if tomorrow 20 or 25 of their candidates win the elections and sit here in the assembly?” He said none of these organisations had renounced militancy and they also did not believe in the supremacy of parliament.
“In the past elections, test tube babies were produced. The engineered and manoeuvred elections this time will put the federation in danger,” he added.
He said the PPP had even provided the names of the districts and those who were intimidating candidates and voters, but the defence minister and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were silent.
“The ECP is sleeping. It seems that it is a no-go area for the ECP,” he said.
Mr Rabbani declared that the state had failed to provide security to the people. He regretted that in the three previous meetings of the National Security Committee, the participants did not even discuss the issue of law and order in the country. He said that in the meetings attended by the caretaker prime minister and the heads of armed forces only focused on economic issues and visa policy despite the reports of the National Counter Terrorism Authority regarding threats to the politicians.
He also lashed out at the caretakers over registration of terror cases against PML-N workers and leaders in Punjab. He said terror cases had been registered against Leader of House Raja Zafarul Haq, former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq and others.
PML-N’s Pervaiz Rasheed said candidates could not run peaceful election campaigns when “people from the Fourth Schedule are being allowed to contest the polls. Be afraid of the day when these people will be sitting in this house,” he warned.
The PML-N senator said “engagements of those responsible for national security and internal law and order are before them”. He said over 10,000 policemen had been deployed for the arrest of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter who were coming to the country to present themselves for arrest whereas those who carried out attacks in Peshawar and Mastung “were roaming freely”.
“They have decided whom to crush and whom to support,” he said without elaborating, but clearly hinting at the military establishment.
The senators from Balochistan criticised the electronic media for downplaying the Mastung tragedy.
Opposition Leader Sherry Rehman criticised the caretaker government, saying it had surrendered its responsibilities. “Who is in charge of Pakistan?” she asked.
The house passed a unanimous resolution condemning the Mastung carnage and expressing solidarity with the blast victims.
Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2018