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PESHAWAR: Qaumi Watan Party chairman Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao has urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to review its decision regarding deployment of military personnel inside polling stations.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, he said that ECP was bound to provide level playing field to all contenders in the elections to prove its impartiality and avoid protests in case of any doubt regarding rigging in the polls.

On the occasion, a PTI district council member in Charsadda along with his relatives and supporters announced to join QWP.

Mr Sherpao said that some political parties complained that they were not given the opportunity to run the election campaign. He said that government and ECP should take steps to remove the fear and doubts.

He said that caretaker government and CEP should take complaints of the candidates and politicians serious by providing them foolproof security and removing the impression that “another IJI was in the making” otherwise after the elections an unending series of sit-ins and protest rallies would start.

The QWP chief said that in the prevailing situation, a hung parliament could be predicted that would be unable to run the affairs and as a result people would raise fingers at ECP.

“The politicians really need security. The security was withdrawn from them following an order of the chief justice of Pakistan,” he said and added that movement of the candidates was a compulsion to seek votes in their respective constituencies.

Mr Sherpao said that it was duty of all the institutions to focus on holding free, fair and impartial elections and remove the faults if there were any in the process. He said that other national issues like construction of dams should be left to the future governments.

He said that top priorities of caretaker government should be maintaining peace and holding transparent elections. He expressed concerns over attacks candidates in Peshawar, Bannu and Balochistan. “In these gory incidents, ANP candidate Haroon Bilour and Balochistan Awami Party candidate Siraj Raisani were martyred and luckily Mohammad Akram Durrani of JUI-F remained unhurt,” he added.

The QWP chief said that those tragic incidents were eye-opener for the government to take appropriate steps for maintenance of law and order during the election campaign, particularly on the polling day.

Mr Sherpao also criticised the Punjab government for arresting PML-N workers, who had taken rallies on arrival of their leader Nawaz Sharif. He said that the caretaker government should prove its impartiality. He said that the complaints regarding discriminatory attitude to create hurdles in campaign of some candidates or removal of banners and posters were common and the government was bound to stop the injustices.

The QWP chief also condemned use of derogatory language by some politicians against their rivals and feared that such attitude would lay extremely negative impacts on the workers that would increase polarisation.

Mr Sherpao said that his party had set priorities to resolve the issues pertaining to unemployment and poverty. He added that PTI failed to materialise its election manifesto and also preferred the corrupt people as candidates instead of honest workers.

“Our party’s slogan is ‘respect the poor’ so that common people including those belonging to the newly merged tribal districts could get their due rights,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2018