PESHAWAR: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Khyber Pakhtunkhwa emir Maulana Attaur Rehman on Saturday alleged “massive rigging” in the Feb 8 elections across the province and announced his party would stage street protests against it.

He said the decision about the schedule of demonstrations would be made in a meeting on Feb 27.

“We will give our workers a call for anti-rigging protests in the next few days,” he told a presser at his party’s provincial headquarters Mufti Mehmood Markaz here.

Mr Rehman said the Feb 27 meeting would be attended by members of the party’s provincial general council, heads of districts chapters, mayors as well as provincial assembly candidates.

Leader Rehman says ‘invisible forces’ stole people’s mandate

He said the way “invisible forces” stole people’s mandate and kept political leadership out of the [coming] assemblies was likely to cost those perpetrators dearly.

“We’d serious complaints against invisible forces about past elections, too, but this time around, they broke all rigging records. They think that this country belongs to them only, but they are mistaken. This country belongs to the youth and others, who rendered great sacrifices for the country,” he said.

The JUI-F leader said the Feb 8 polls and those who were made to win showed that the May 9 episode of violent protests was a farce.

Regarding PTI nominee for the chief minister’s office Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, he said he had heard that candidate was “brought to Peshawar the other day where sat and dined with government officials.”

Mr Rehman wondered what message the powers-to-be wanted to give to the people by imposing such people as rulers.

He claimed that Mr Gandapur was directly involved in the May 9 violent protests and conspiring against state institutions but members of the bureaucracy and key institutions were holding meetings with him.

“We’re forced to believe that state institutions played a crucial role in massive election riggings. They are also responsible for propping up such people. Their bids to re-impose them on us as rulers have made that role known to everyone,” he said.

The JUI-F leader said his party would call its workers very soon to challenge the “state thuggery” in a massive show of power.

He said street protests would let everyone see who the people stood with.

Mr Rehman said the nomination of the next chief minister by the PTI was the handiwork of state institutions.

Regarding the JUI-F chief’s meeting with a PTI delegation in Islamabad, he said it was immature to think that his party would shun its stand about former prime minister Imran Khan’s party or embrace its members.

“We believe that the PTI did great harm to the province in its 10 years long rule,” he said. Mr Rehman said election rigging would deepen the political crisis in the country. He said countries broke up due to such things.

“When the state institutions will side with such people to make them win elections, then the people will definitely take to the streets,” he said.

The JUI-F leader said the state institutions should have nothing to do with elections and politics.

“We will contact other parties as well for joining anti-rigging protests,” he said.

To a question whether the JUI-F will join the PTI-led demonstrations, he said his party was going to stage protests by themselves.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2024

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