PESHAWAR: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl on Wednesday announced that it would boycott the elections for the offices of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s chief minister and the provincial assembly’s speaker and deputy speaker.

The house will elect its speaker and deputy speaker today (Thursday).

“We [JUI-F] have decided not to take part in the elections for the chief minister, speaker, and deputy speaker.

We are going to boycott this electoral exercise,” senior JUI-F leader and former chief minister Akram Khan Durrani told reporters after the oath-taking ceremony for MPAs.

Durrani says other parties requested to join protests against poll ‘rigging’

Mr Durrani said that the JUI-F informed the other opposition parties in the provincial assembly in a meeting on Wednesday about its intention to boycott elections.

He said that his party had the majority of seats in the Balochistan Assembly and could even install its own chief minister in the province, but it preferred to sit on the opposition benches.

The JUI-F leader said that his party turned down a PML-N proposal to join the federal government and would continue to raise voice against election “rigging” on the floor of the house as well as in street protests.

He said that political parties were holding demonstrations against poll “rigging” across the country, and even it was protested by the PTI, which won polls in KP.

“Religious forces are on the streets across the country [against polling rigging], while nationalist parties are staging protests in Sindh and Balochistan. The Awami National Party is also protesting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where our party is set to announce its protest schedule,” he said.

Mr Durrani said that his party was in contact with others with requests to join protests.

He complained about violence on election day and alleged that voters were taken away at gunpoint and ballot boxes were stuffed with bogus votes.

The JUI-F leader claimed that he had videos showing his rivals stamp ballot papers.

He took a dig at PTI workers sitting in the visitors’ gallery during the oath-taking ceremony in the assembly over their rowdy behaviour and said that the house appeared to be a “cattle market.”

Mr Durrani said that in such circumstances, any respectable person would think twice before becoming part of the house.

“Culture and traditions take hundreds of years to take shape before they drive the world. When a nation moves away from its culture and religion, then it can’t survive for long,” he said.

The JUI-F leader said under the new government, the inflation rate would hit an all-time high.

In the provincial assembly, the PML-N and JUI-F have nine seats, including seven general seats and two reserved for women.

On Tuesday, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman announced that his party would neither become part of the government nor take part in the opposition leader’s election.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2024

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