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ECP comes under attack in Senate

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Election Commission of Pakistan.— File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Almost all political parties in the Senate on Monday criticised the caretaker government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for their failure to provide protection to candidates.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which staged a walkout from the house in protest against the targeted killing of its workers and operation against the party in Karachi, also alleged that “pre-poll rigging” had already started in Sindh.

Senators belonging to the Awami National Party (ANP) and the PPP particularly targeted the ECP for its various actions such as ordering withdrawal of security of some key politicians.

Speaking on a motion on the law and order situation in the country, MQM’s Mustafa Kamal alleged that efforts were being made to snatch the party’s mandate. He said delimitation of constituencies could not be carried out only in one city and that too after the announcement of election schedule.

“If peace is not restored and anti-state elements are left freely to act, the dream of strong democracy will not be fulfilled,” he added.

Another party Senator Tahir Mashhadi said the Taliban had claimed responsibility for killing the MQM candidate in Hyderabad. He said the party was not being allowed to run its election campaign.

JUI-F’s Abdul Ghafoor Haideri was of the opinion that the ECP’s bar on candidates from providing transport to voters would affect the turnout.

ANP’s Zahid Khan said candidates of the ANP, MQM and PPP were receiving life threats from the Taliban.

PPP’s Farhatullah Babar said top leaders of his party, including former prime ministers Yusuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah and ex-MNA Akhunzada Chattan, were receiving threats.

He expressed his resentment over the statement of Chief Election Commissioner that politicians were seeking security only to enjoy protocol. He also took exception to a letter written by the ECP to the Senate Secretariat saying that the parliamentary committee had no power to oversee the electoral process.

PML-N’s Ishaq Dar announced that the Senate committee would continue to look into the electoral process since they were the stakeholders of the whole exercise.

PML-Q’s Mushahid Hussain urged the ECP to hold a meeting with political parties to discuss security-related issues.

Caretaker Law Minister Ahmer Bilal Soofi assured the house that he would convey the senators’ concern to the federal cabinet and, if needed, to the ECP and the Supreme Court.

Earlier, Jahangir Badar announced that he was no more leader of the house after the installation of the caretaker government. He called for appointment of a new leader of the house by the caretaker prime minister.

MQM’s Tahir Mashhadi moved a bill seeking amendment to article 63 of the constitution dealing with the bar on holders of dual nationality from contesting the elections. The bill was referred to the committee concerned by the chairman.