Updated Jul 27, 2018 07:36am

PML-N decides against boycotting parliament

Zulqernain Tahir

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided in principle not to boycott parliament on the issue of poll rigging and play an “aggressive” role while sitting on the opposition benches in the National Assembly.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the PML-N central executive committee (CEC) which was presided over by its president Shahbaz Sharif in Model Town here on Thursday.

“The meeting discussed at length the rigging issue and decided to do aggressive politics at the Centre and make efforts to form government in Punjab,” a PML-N insider told Dawn after the meeting.

The party also decided to take all other major parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party and obviously excluding the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, to formulate a joint strategy to take up the rigging issue that it believes has deprived it of majority in the coming National Assembly.

The CEC expressed strong reservations on ‘rigging’ and decided to use all options to expose it before the people.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn that any decision whether or not to boycott parliament would be taken after consulting other parties at a multi-party conference (MPC) the PML-N had called on Friday (today) in Islamabad.

However, she hastened to add that unlike the PTI, the PML-N was not a party that could ever do politics which was detrimental to the country.

“We will (try to) form a ‘united political front’ to take up the issue of rigging. All political parties will gather in Islamabad on Friday to formulate a joint strategy against rigging. We will present constituency-wise evidence of rigging and issue a white paper on rigging after the MPC,” she said.

The former information minister said that the proposed united front would finalise a future course of action after the MPC.

“Constituencies in certain cities were targeted to achieve desired results. We have witnessed a similar pattern in Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan and some other areas,” she said.

“Rigging had been committed in a bid to ‘select ladla’ (Imran Khan),” she said and called upon the authorities concerned to hold an inquiry to ascertain why the result transmission system of the Election Commission of Pakistan had broken down.

Ms Aurangzeb continued to say that pre and post-poll day rigging had been carried out. “Why polling agents were expelled and not given Form 45,” she asked.

Moreover, she said, the voting process had been deliberately slowed down to deprive people of an opportunity to cast their votes.

“The PML-N’s mandate has been stolen and we will expose this,” she said.

Asked whether the party planned to take to the streets to protest against the alleged rigging, she said: “The country cannot afford agitation at this moment. The PML-N is not the PTI.”

Earlier the CEC meeting that lasted for several hours discussed the rigging issue and examined its evidence.

Speaking at the huddle, Shahbaz Sharif said that the results of the polls did not correspond to what he had witnessed during the election campaign.

“Other political parties also have serious reservations on the elections results as systematic rigging has been carried out,” he said.

The former chief minister of Punjab was happy to note that despite all odds Lahore had again proved that it was a PML-N stronghold.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2018

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