JUI-F hints at boycotting KP local govt polls

Published October 28, 2021
A file photo of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. — DawnNewsTV/File
A file photo of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that his party is considering boycotting the upcoming local government (LG) elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying they cannot accept any elections under the present “fake and illegitimate” Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

“The boycott option is under consideration. We will boycott the elections, if we are left with no other option. Our first demand is that the local government elections in KP should be cancelled,” said the Maulana at a press conference after presiding over a party meeting here on Wednesday.

The JUI-F chief said they were consulting legal and constitutional experts on the issue to finalise the future course of action and to present JUI reservations in legal terms. He said the JUI-F would also discuss the matter with the component parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) before announcing its decision.

Fazl says PDM component parties to be consulted on the issue

In line with the decision to complete local government elections in KP by Jan 16, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Oct 25 had announced that in the first phase, 17 districts of the province would go to the polls on Dec 19. While turning down a request by the KP government to defer elections for Tehsil bodies, the ECP had decided to hold the polls for Tehsil and city councils, as well as village and neighbourhood bodies, on the same day.

The ECP has already issued the election schedule under which the candidates will start submitting their nomination papers from November 4.

The districts where elections are to be held in the first phase are: Malakand, Bajaur, Swabi, Peshawar, Nowshera, Kohat, Karak, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Tank, Haripur, Khyber, Mohmand, Charsadda, Hangu and Lakki Marwat.

“We have a categorical stance from day one that the governments which have come into existence after the 2018 general elections are fake and illegitimate. How can we accept elections under a government which itself is a product of rigging?” said the Maulana during the press conference, declaring that they would also like to directly present their “reservations” to the ECP over its decision to hold the LG polls.

The JUI-F chief said though the ECP could say that it was supervising the LG elections in KP, those in power always used the local administrations and state resources for their benefit during the elections. Moreover, he said, the ECP had itself announced that it was starting verification of the voters list which meant that the ECP had admitted that the voters list was “dubious”.

He said there was no justification for holding the electoral exercise while having a dubious voters list.

Maulana Fazl, who is also the president of the PDM, criticised the LG system announced by the PTI-led provincial government in KP and questioned the logic of having non-party-based polls at the village council level and party-based elections at the top level.

He said those who would be elected as independents in the village councils would definitely join the ruling party as they would need funds for carrying out development activities in their constituencies.

The JUI-F chief was of the view that the next LG polls in the country should only be held after the fresh general elections which was a major demand of all opposition parties.

In reply to a question, the Maulana ruled out the possibility of joining hands with the new government under Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) in Balochistan.

He “condemned” the government for using force against protesters of the banned Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan, stating that holding protest was a democratic and legal right of everyone.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2021

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