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July 13, 2018

NAB dice loaded against PML-N, PPP: senators


July 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Senate members on Thursday alleged that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had loaded the dice against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Speaking in the Upper House of Parliament, they said a particular party was being supported, pampered and patronized to come to power. They urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure a level-playing field to all the political parties in the July 25 election.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) senators alleged that a ground was being prepared to bring a single party into power and that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was acting as a silent spectator in this regard. Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani alleged that “meddling” in the process was run-up to the elections, making the polls controversial even before the polling day.

Rabbani raised doubts over the transparency of the upcoming polls and declared that the ECP had failed in its constitutional role to ensure free, fair and transparent elections. He pointed out that the ECP secretary had said in the past that “external forces” were not allowing successful elections, before the official distanced himself from his statement.

His statement was not the only one — the caretaker interior minister also mentioned that an “external hand” did not want elections to be held on time. He said efforts were being made to postpone the elections.

Rabbani said extending the polling time on the demand of a single political party had raised doubts about the transparency of the polling process. “Other political parties were not consulted before granting extension in the polling hours”, Rabbani said. He said the NAB was giving an impression that the turncoats who had changed their loyalties and defected to a particular party had a clean track record. Rabbani alleged a military commander at the Kasur garrison had summoned a returning officer and questioned why the ECP was acting as a silentspectator instead of taking the official to task as a military officer had nothing to do with the polls.

“Why the military is being deployed inside the polling stations and why magisterial powers have been given to them,” he said. Rabbani also claimed that the PPP candidates were being pressured into either to switch over to other parties or to withdraw their candidatures. He said the defence minister should come in the House and explain the position. He said the ECP secretary must explain his earlier statement about meddling in elections. He asked how the ECP could take the decision to extend the voting time on the request of a single party.

He said inadequate security to the candidates resulted in loss of Awami National Party (ANP) candidate Haroon Bilour, adding the convoys of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto had also been facing security issues, but the ECP was yet to provide security to him as well as to other politicians. He further said the interior minister had earlier said that there politicians were receiving threats but he did not take any measures in this regard. He said censorship on was also going unnoticed.

Rabbani asked the Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to constitute a Committee of the Whole House and summon the chief election commissioner along with ECP secretary to brief the house on all these controversies ahead of general elections.

Opposition Leader Sherry Rehman said the ECP must resolve address the reservations of political parties on a war footing otherwise the elections would become controversial. She said the current happenings reminded them of General Ziaul Haq’s dictatorial regime.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq endorsed his colleagues from the PPP and said the Senate was the only elected forum which should remain in session till elections so that it could play the role of a watchdog to ensure smooth and transparent elections.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Senator Usman Kakar said the Constitution had been virtually suspended alleging that other state institutions, particularly the ECP, was getting dictation from the General Headquarters (GHQ). Other lawmakers also participated in the discussion and stressed that an important election should not be made controversial. They included Moula Bux Chandio, Usman Khan Kakar, Shibli Faraz, Sitara Ayaz, Rehman Malik, and Musaddik Malik.

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