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ANP ‘being denied’ a level playing field

May 07, 2013

PESHAWAR, May 6: Awami National Party leader and candidate for PK-3, Peshawar Haroon Bilour on Monday complained that Election Commission of Pakistan had failed to provide his party with a level-playing field for contesting the May 11 elections despite several complaints.

“May 11 elections won’t be called free, fair and impartial elections if our party candidates are not given security and a level-playing field for election campaign,” he told a news conference at Peshawar Press Club.

Mr Bilour said the government had provided security to leaders of other political parties for public meetings across the country but ANP leaders had been restricted to their houses in the name of threats to their life.

‘‘Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl amir Maulana Fazlur Rehman are engaged in their respective parties’ election campaigns without fear but our (ANP) candidates have been told not to attend public meetings for security reasons,” he said.

The ANP leader said it could not be called free, fair and impartial elections if his party was not given security and provided with a level-playing field for campaign.

However, he drew attention of both the federal and provincial caretaker governments towards Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which he said was trying to sabotage the general elections by carrying out attacks on polling stations.

He asked the government to make an effective strategy for the election day to prevent attacks by militants, especially in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying it was need of the hour.

Mr Bilour dispelled the impression that his party people were using official vehicles of Peshawar Development Authority for election campaigns in the provincial capital and said all such allegations were baseless.

He said ANP would continue to coordinate with MQM and PPP on one-point agenda to bring normalcy to Karachi because the port city was the country’s economic hub and that millions of Pakhtuns had been living there.

The ANP leader criticised PTI chief Imran Khan for avoiding speaking to the people in Peshawar and said he did not give due importance to Peshawariites during his election campaign and even did not step out of his vehicle.

“The people of Peshawar should remove all PTI flags and banners and avoid supporting him because he neither met them nor spoke to them,” he said, adding that PTI had focused attention on other constituencies only.

He said it was moral duty of Imran Khan to meet the people, who suffered due to terrorist acts, suicide bombings and targeted attacks at least to condole the deaths.

“We have rendered sacrifices for the people time and again and ready to face all kinds of challenges for restoration of peace without fear,” he said.

Mr Bilour demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan disqualify Jamaat-i-Islami candidates from contesting elections because its workers had been caught carrying fake ballot papers in the constituency, NA-34, Dir. He said ECP should take prompt steps for such acts, which were meant to undermine free, fair and transparent elections.

The ANP leader said it was a matter of grave concern that more than 90,000 fake ballots were transported by JI workers in NA-34 and therefore, ECP should take notice of it and disqualify JI candidate from the contesting elections in the constituency.