The opposition parties are holding their first protest demonstration against alleged rigging in the July 25 general elections outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Islamabad.
The decision to hold the protest was made by the newly formed 11-party grand opposition alliance, named ‘Pakistan Alliance for Free and Fair Elections’, at a multi-party conference held in Islamabad on Friday.
Besides the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the opposition alliance comprises Awami National Party (ANP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP) and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).
PPP’s Sherry Rehman, Khursheed Shah and Farhatullah Babar, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal are among the leaders who have arrived at the protest. However, PML-N Chief Shahbaz Sharif and Maulana Fazl — chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and president of the MMA — have yet to arrive.
Workers numbering in hundreds have gathered in the capital. According to reports, the participants are chanting slogans about their respective political parties.
Earlier, sources in the opposition had said that the parties have asked all their elected members and ticket-holders to reach Islamabad to participate in the demonstration. They said that the workers had not been asked to attend Wednesday’s event and they would soon be given a call for such protests across the country.
The opposition alliance has also given a call for holding protests outside the offices of the provincial election commissions on Thursday.
The opposition leaders have also decided to register a strong protest inside and outside parliament during the first sitting of the National Assembly. They have a plan to hold a public meeting in Islamabad soon after Eidul Azha.
The opposition parties plan to organise a “national conference on rigging” in which not only political parties but members from civil society, lawyers and journalists would also be invited.