ISLAMABAD, Feb 10: PML-Q secretary general Mushahid Hussain Syed says the government should release Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, other deposed judges and senior lawyers, politicians and members of the civil society to create an environment conducive to free and fair elections in the country.

“SCBA president Aitzaz Ahsan, Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Munir A. Malik and other lawyers and political workers should be released immediately and restrictions on the movement of deposed judges of superior courts should be lifted to help create a peaceful atmosphere,” he told media personnel at the Pakistan Muslim League House on Sunday.

He confirmed that Chaudhry Parvaiz Elahi was his party’s candidate for premiership.

About opposition’s allegations of possible poll rigging, he said this was to pre-empt the possibility of PML-Q faring well in the elections. He said that international observers, including three American senators and a six-member Congress team, were saying that fair, free and transparent elections were crucial for the stability of the country.

He did not agree with the notion that external forces might be involved in activities to subvert the smooth poll process and said there were internal elements who did not want democracy to take roots in the country.

He deplored the manhandling of protesting lawyers by police in Islamabad on Saturday and termed it “unnecessary and unfortunate”.

Mr Hussain claimed that despite all odds, his party remained front-runner and could win sufficient number of seats to form the government in Punjab. If the PML-Q failed to achieve electoral success, he said, it would prefer to sit in opposition.

He urged all political parties to initiate dialogue for national reconciliation and after the elections formulate a political agenda for the future in order to curb terrorism and extremism.

About the controversy over Scotland Yard’s report into the assassination of PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, he said that even if there was a reinvestigation by the UN, as demanded by the PPP, the same Scotland Yard would be given the task because the world body had no investigation body of its own.

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