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ISLAMABAD: The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) has called for declaring the entire electoral exercise “null and void” and rejected the results outright.

Speaking to Dawn after a meeting of the alliance on Thursday, MMA’s secretary general Liaquat Baloch said that after reviewing the post-election situation, the MMA leadership had decided to convene a multi-party conference (MPC) in Islamabad on Friday (today) to thrash out a joint strategy.

The recently revived alliance of five religio-political parties suffered a drubbing in the elections and even its chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq tasted defeat in their native constituencies.

Mr Baloch said most of the participants were of the view the alliance should demand that the results be declared “null and void”, but it was decided that a final decision would be made after consulting other parties.

In reply to a question, he said the MMA had invited all major political parties, excluding the PTI, to the MPC. He said Maulana Fazl had already contacted the leaders of other parties, including former president Asif Zardari. Mr Baloch was of the view that the whole election exercise had become doubtful after “complete failure” of the Election Commission (ECP) to ensure transparency.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters after the MMA meeting, Maulana Fazlur Rehman alleged that the ECP had no control over the returning officers and district returning officers on polling day.

“It seemed that the ROs and the DROs had been made hostage,” he said.

The Maulana, who heads his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, alleged that the presiding officers had not provided Form 45 (the statement of count) to polling agents, instead providing the results to agents on loose sheets of paper. He said soldiers would take custody of polling bags and then “transport them somewhere”. Maulana Fazl said the transmission of poll results was stopped after Maghrib prayers and the “prepared results” were still being issued. He said the MMA had decided to continue its struggle for the sanctity of vote.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2018