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ISLAMABAD: The Pak­is­tan Muslim League-N (PML-N) has opposed the government’s decision to allow overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes through i-voting in by-elections to be held in 41 constituencies of national and provincial assemblies on Oct 14.

A parliamentary party meeting of the PML-N presided over by its president Shahbaz Sharif was of the opinion that the government had taken the decision in haste and paved the way of pre-poll rigging.

In a declaration issued after the meeting held in the Parliament House, the PML-N demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) take all parties on board on the issue of i-voting and satisfy technical experts in this regard.

The PML-N also decided to expedite its contacts with other opposition parties to exert pressure on the government over what it believed “non-provision of justice” to imprisoned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, alleged rigging in the July 25 general elections, increase in electricity tariff and price of fertiliser and suspension of funds for projects executed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The meeting was also attended by leaders of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal — an alliance of five religious and political parties.

The meeting declared Nawaz Sharif a “political” prisoner and regretted that despite having no allegation of corruption, he was not being given bail in the case. It decided that the PML-N would not retreat from its demand for a parliamentary commission to probe alleged rigging in the general elections.

The meeting questioned National Accountability Bureau chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal’s recent meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan despite the fact that the latter was one of the accused in a case relating to misuse of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s official helicopter being probed by NAB. “The meeting between the two was a sheer example of conflict of interest,” the PML-N said.

The parliamentary party meeting also criticised the PTI-led government’s decision to wrap up the existing local government system that was revived by the last PML-N government. The meeting decided that the party would convene a grand convention of all public representatives in the local government system to devise future strategy in consultation with them.

The PML-N reiterated that it would play the role of an aggressive opposition in and outside parliament and criticised the foreign policy of the present regime. “The government’s recent decisions on foreign affairs have caused country’s humiliation in the international world,” it said.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2018