ISLAMABAD: The opposition parties will hold their first protest demonstration against alleged rigging in the July 25 general elections outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) here on Wednesday.

The decision to hold the protest had been made by the newly formed 11-party grand opposition alliance named ‘Pakistan Alliance for Free and Fair Elections’ at a multi-party conference held in Islamabad on Friday.

Besides the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the opposition alliance comprises Awami National Party (ANP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP) and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).

PPP says Bilawal, Zardari will not take part in demonstration

Talking to Dawn on Tuesday, PML-N’s Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that party president Shahbaz Sharif would also participate in the protest demonstration, besides other heads of the opposition parties.

The PML-N senator said that ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan, QWP chief Aftab Sherpao, MMA chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PkMAP president Mehmood Khan Achakzai had confirmed their participation in the protest. He said that NP president Hasil Bizenjo had already informed them that due to an important party engagement, he would not be able to come to Islamabad to take part in the protest.

When contacted, PPP vice president Sherry Rehman said all the top leaders of her party would be present in the protest. She, however, said that PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and co-chairman Asif Zardari would not participate in the protest.

Sources in the opposition said that the parties had asked all their elected members and ticket-holders to reach Islamabad to participate in the demonstration. They said that the workers had not been asked to attend the Wednesday’s event and they would soon be given a call for such protests across the country.

The opposition alliance has also given a call for holding protests outside the offices of the provincial election commissions on Thursday.

The opposition leaders have also decided to lodge a strong protest inside and outside parliament during the first sitting of the National Assembly. They have a plan to hold a public meeting in Islamabad soon after Eidul Azha.

The opposition parties plan to organise a “national conference on rigging” in which not only political parties but members from civil society, lawyers and journalists would also be invited.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2018