PTI stages country-wide protests outside ECP offices

Published April 26, 2022
PTI supporters march during a protest against the “biased attitude” of the chief election commissioner and to demand immediate general elections in the country, outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) office in Karachi, on Tuesday. — AFP
PTI supporters march during a protest against the “biased attitude” of the chief election commissioner and to demand immediate general elections in the country, outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) office in Karachi, on Tuesday. — AFP

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) members staged protests outside Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) offices in different cities on Tuesday, condemning the alleged biased conduct of Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

Television footage showed demonstrations were held in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gujrat and Faisalabad, among other cities.

Karachi

Police were deployed outside the ECP office in Karachi ahead of the protest and three mobile vans were also present at the site as part of security arrangements.

According to a statement issued by PTI spokesperson Saddam Kumbhar, Opposition Leader in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh and other party leaders, including Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Bilal Ghaffar, Aftab Siddiqui, Raja Azhar and Saifur Rehman, were among the demonstrators.

The statement said Sheikh addressed the protesters on the occasion, saying: "We are here to make the shameless feel some shame."

Without naming anyone, he added, "You were the election commission. Since when did you become the corruption commission."

The PTI leader called the present times "black days", further dubbing the ECP the "patron of turncoats".

Last night, the PTI had also taken out a bike rally in port city against the incumbent coalition government.

Sharing a video of the rally on social media, PTI leader and former human rights minister Shireen Mazari tweeted: "Motorbike rally in Karachi last night against imported govt brought in through [the] US regime change conspiracy aided by local abettors. Our Movement continues — the ppl have risen!"

Peshawar

On Tuesday, chaos was witnessed outside the ECP office in Peshawar as PTI members attempted to barge into the building. They were stopped by police deployed outside the ECP office's gate.

PTI lawmakers from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, including Zahir Shah and Abdul Salam, were among the protesters, who raised slogans against the CEC, calling him biased.

They questioned as to why only the PTI's funding was being investigated while other parties were not facing similar probes.

The protest ended in Peshawar around 1pm.

Islamabad

Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid and PTI leader Shibli Faraz speak to the media during the protest outside the ECP office in Islamabad. — AFP
Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid and PTI leader Shibli Faraz speak to the media during the protest outside the ECP office in Islamabad. — AFP

Meanwhile in Islamabad, former interior minister Sheikh Rashid and PTI leader Shibli Faraz spoke to the media during the protest out the ECP office.

Amid loud slogans by the demonstrators, Faraz said while his party was staging a "symbolic protest" outside the ECP office in the capital, thousands of party members were unable to reach the site of demonstration as "routes have been blocked".

But, he added, this would make little difference as "everyone knows that people from the across the country can gather even on an hour's notice on the call of Imran Khan".

Referring to the PTI's recent rallies in Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi, he said thousands of people had turned up at the public meetings out of their own will.

"But since this government is an imported one, they have been inflicted with the disease of security," he added. "Wherever they see a gathering of four people, their legs start shaking."

The PTI leader further criticised the incumbent government for removing several names from the Exit Control List (ECL).

"The way they have removed 3,000 names from the ECL, I would suggest that they even open the gates of the Kot Lakhpat Jail," Faraz said.

For his part, Rashid said even if the "government and entire establishment come together, they cannot stop the elections from taking place".

He went on to say: "Our position was not as good as it is now because of these fools."

Making an allusion to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his entourage, who will be leaving for his first foreign trip as the country's premier this week, Rashid added: "Robbers, looters and thugs are going to Saudi Arabia. They got their names removed from the ECL."

He further said Imran Khan had not made a formal call for protest yet, and once he did that, "the entire country will be in Islamabad".

PTI leader Amir Dogar also spoke on the occasion, saying that the entire nation was standing with Imran Khan.

Without naming anyone and in an apparent reference to the ECP, he added, "You are bound to hold elections within 90 days."

Making another vague remark and an apparent reference to the Supreme Court, he said: "The marble building had given that ruling with its one eye closed."

Earlier, PTI's Fawad Chaudhry and Farrukh Habib also criticised the government for placing containers and blocking routes to the ECP office in Islamabad.

Chaudhry said in a tweet that the PTI was only staging a "token protest" outside ECP offices across the country.

"And this foolish government has closed the entire country," he added.

Chaudhry said the move to block roads with container signified that the government was "perplexed".

"What will become of them when we launch a proper movement?" he said.

Habib, meanwhile, said staging a protest was the PTI's democratic right, "but the way containers have been placed to block roads, it seems legs of the incumbent imported government are shaking".

He added that when the Pakistan Democratic Movement had staged a protest outside the ECP last year, when the PTI was in power, "we had given them the permission [to hold the demonstration] and provided them security and all other facilities".

Dawn correspondent in Islamabad also reported that the main PTI rally was barred from reaching the ECP office in Islamabad and was stopped at Nadra Chowk, while the Red Zone had been sealed with containers.

Police were deployed outside the ECP office, while the protesters shouted slogans such as "Pakistan army zindabad" and demanded that CEC Raja's resignation.

Lahore

In Lahore, a large contingent of police was deployed outside the ECP office and barriers were placed as citizens were barred from entering the building.

Addressing the protesters outside the ECP office, PTI leader Mehmoodur Rasheed demanded that "turncoats [in the party] be de-seated and preprations be made for the next elections".

"If the ECP does not mend its way, a protest would be staged daily," he said, adding that a reference against dissident PTI members had been filed in the ECP and a decision on it should be made.

Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid said the ECP's "partisan behaviour" was unacceptable and added that there was no need to delay the matter of "turncoats".

"These are the people who sold their consciences ... and Pakistan," she said, demanding that they be de-seated immediately.

Another PTI leader Musarrat Jamshed said the ECP was working "an a US agent", warning that if the dissidents were not held accountable, "the nation would hold you (ECP) accountable".

When it was his turn to speak, PTI Senator Ejaz Chaudhary remarked that with "this election commission [overseeing the matters], fair elections were not a possibility".

He said the PTI wanted fair elections, where votes were not bought and sold.

The Senator called out the ECP for "delaying proceedings on references against dissident PTI lawmakers" and alleged that the PTI was being "targeted in the foreign funding case".

He announced that Imran was reaching Lahore tomorrow and would address party workers there.

Later, the protest ended as the protesters dispersed.

Protest announcement

The PTI had announced on Sunday that it would start staging protests outside ECP offices from today, alleging that the CEC had been biased against the party.

Chaudhry had made the announced on his official Twitter, saying that a meeting of the party's political committee was held on Sunday wherein issues pertaining to the ECP were deliberated upon.

He had accused the CEC of being "partisan and dishonest" and alleged that a declaration to de-seat the PTI's dissident assembly members had still not been issued by the ECP.

"In this connection, the PTI will hold a protest in front of the ECP offices across the country on Tuesday against the behaviour of the election commissioner," Chaudhry had said.

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