Exclusive: Pakistan Senate Opposition Leader: 2018 General Election Rigged

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Pakistan’s Current government came into the power after July 2018 general elections. Opposition claims, said elections were not free, fair and transparent; massive rigging was observed/ monitored in Elections 2018. They (opposition) also argue that current government is not legitimate as it was not elected but “selected”.

To remove PTI (Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf) from the power, opposition parties started a gigantic and elephantine series of public gatherings and rallies throughout the country, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and fresh midterm elections in the country. On the other hand federal cabinet and treasury benches in parliament are notifying that these public conclaves are increasing risk factor in second wave of Corona pandemic.

The story begins with protest and sit-in of JUI- F (Jamiat e Ulama e Islam, Fazal ur Rehman); one of the biggest and largest, right wing religious political party in the country. In the last quarter of 2019, this party started anti-government cavalcades from South to the North of the country, and in final round party leadership and workers observed sit-in on Jinnah avenue of the capital city; Islamabad.

Fazal ur Rehman, former federal minister, played pivotal role to gather the opposition parties in agitation against the government. After series of long consultations, lastly, PDM was formulated. Pakistan Democratic Movement was the union of eleven political parties including religious political groups; the basic motto of this alliance was to remove the Prime Minister Imran Khan from his office. Fresh elections are also one of the major demands of the PDM.

In September 2020, in a joint communiqué of APC (All Parties Conference), it was decided to launch a cycle of protests and rallies against the PTI government and PM Imran Khan. The end point will of these efforts will be a ‘long march’ towards the capital by next year.  

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First power show of PDM was observed on Oct 17, 2020 in Gujranwala city; one of the political hub of main opposition party PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz), with an approximate footfall of 55,000 to 60,000.

On Oct 18, 2020 astronomical jumbo crowd was gathered under same banner in financial capital of Pakistan; Karachi.

Same episode was repeated by PDM in Quetta, capital city of Baluchistan province on Oct 25, 2020.  

On Sunday 22 November 2020, again PDM conducted a public gathering against the government with same and identical demands. High food, fuel and medicine prices worked as catalyst and a large number of people other than political workers participated in these politically charged and stimulating gatherings to protest against government policies.

Three times former PM Nawaz Sharif and president of key political opposition party in PDM; who is in London for treatment, spoke to these protests through video link. Each time Ex-PM blamed the establishment for their role in politics, and chanted the slogan “give respect to the vote”.

Leader of opposition in upper house of the parliament Raja Zafar-ul-Haq told Eat News, “general elections 2018 were not free and fair, opposition parties decided to protest against this unfair and unmerited episode rather than forwarding their complaints to ECP (Election commission of Pakistan) or filing any petition in SCP (Supreme Court of Pakistan) as they were not sure about the any positive outcome.” Additionally he told, “Current government is directionless, if it will complete its five years constitutional tenure, situation would be worse than ever, no one would be able to control the inflation, unemployment and poor growth rate in the country. People are asking opposition parties, why they (opposition) are not taking up these issues with government.” He demanded, Senate 2021 election must be transparent and must be conducted through ‘show of hand’ methodology. “Massive crowd is on opposition side, which is an eye opener for government. In case of any violation of constitution, government has to face the music”, he added.  

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Government officials and ministers are accusing the opposition parties for spreading the corona virus through such kind of public gatherings. They claim opposition is playing politics over Covid-19.

Federal Minister for Information and broadcasting during his press conference said “opposition is creating confusion about the government’s efforts for dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. Corona virus is a global reality, it is not a product of any mind and the court has also issued its ruling regarding the matter. They (opposition parties) should demonstrate responsibility and not commit enmity with people. Protecting the health of people is the government’s top priority”, he stressed.

KP (Khyber Pakhtoonkhan) provincial health minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra during his media briefing said, “We may lodge cases against them (opposition) if a spike in virus cases is witnessed in the province after the rally.” “We had already informed the opposition about the present situation in the province particularly in Peshawar and advised them to postpone their November 22 meeting in the city, but they didn’t listen to us”, he added.

During Peshawar public gathering on Nov 22, chairman PDM Moulana Fazal ur Rehman said, “we have declared political war against current government and will not step-back. We were cheated as elections were rigged.”   

Chairman PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) Bilawal Bhutto during his speech said “people are suffering in small provinces. Federal government fails to address the inflation, unemployment and corruption. It not possible for a common man to spent a respectful life in country.” 

Political activities are on the high swing in Pakistan. Opposition claims due to street power they will be able to remove the Prime Minister Imran Khan till January 2021. What would be the conclusion of PDM, let the dust settle down.

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Muhammad Farhan Niazi is a correspondent for Eat News in Pakistan and is an experienced senior producer with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in feature and news writing, non-linear editing, radio, multimedia journalism, Online journalism, film production, and sound. Strong media and communication professional graduated from University of Peshawar.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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