Fazlur Rehman rejects ‘rigged’ poll results, invites PML-N to join JUI-F on opposition benches

Published February 14, 2024
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman speaks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman speaks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday rejected the “rigged” results of the 12th general elections held on Feb 8, and invited PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif to join his party on the opposition benches instead of forming the government.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), JUI-F falls under the parliamentary umbrella of Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Pakistan, which only won four National Assembly seats in the elections.

PML-N managed to win 75 seats, PPP 54, while independents — mostly backed by their rival PTI — took the largest share out of the 266 National Assembly seats up for grabs.

In a press conference on Tuesday, PDM leaders, including former president Asif Zardari, ex-prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, PML-Q and MQM-P chiefs Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Khalid Maqbool Siddique had announced their plans to form the next government.

However, Fazl, who was the PDM chief during the previous government’s tenure, was absent from yesterday’s presser, and nor were any other JUI-F leaders present.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad today, Fazl claimed that the election results showed that bribes were taken from both the successful and unsuccessful candidates.

“Some were even given entire assemblies in exchange for money,” he alleged. “I, therefore, invite the PML-N and Nawaz to come with us and sit in the opposition.”

Fazl alleged that the rigging during the 2024 polls even broke the records of the alleged rigging carried out in the 2018 elections. He rejected the Election Commission of Pakistan’s statement in which it declared the polls “free and fair”.

“In the eyes of JUI-F, the Parliament has lost its importance and democracy is losing its case. It seems as if decisions will now be taken on the ground and not the Parliament,” he said.

The JUI-F chief said his party would play its parliamentary role but would become a part of the assemblies with reservations.

He said the JUI-F wanted a National Assembly that was truly represented by the people “without the intervention from the establishment”.

“Defeating the JUI-F through poll rigging was a conspiracy of anti-Islamic elements. Our fault is that we played our role in mending the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is not acceptable to the US.

“Our fault is that we spoke up against Israeli actions in Gaza and supported Hamas,” Fazl added.

He highlighted that the JUI-F was an ideological force and would not compromise on any of its stances.

“Our workers are determined to start a movement based on our history and sacrifices,” Fazl said. “If the establishment believes that elections were free and fair, then that means the army’s May 9 narrative has been buried.”

He said the ECP’s role “from day one has been dubious”, claiming that the electoral watchdog rejected petitions filed by the JUI-F candidates.

“On Feb 22, we will hold a meeting with the JUI-F’s local general council in Islamabad, on Feb 25 in Balochistan, on Feb 27 in KP and meetings will be held in Karachi and Lahore on March 3 and March 5,” Fazl added.

In response to a question regarding a possible coalition with the PTI, he said: “Our conflict is with their minds, not their bodies. We hope this issue will be resolved.”

To another query, Fazl stated that the JUI-F was not subservient to both the PPP and the PML-N. “We are not the government’s coalition partners,” he added.

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