LAHORE: The Pakistani opposition parties on Wednesday demanded of the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government to forthwith announce schedule for fresh elections, clearly giving date for the installation of the federal as well as provincial caretaker governments and polling.
A 10-point joint declaration issued after a meeting of the opposition leaders convened by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Mian Nawaz Sharif at his residence said that any unconstitutional step hindering the people’s verdict would be strongly rejected and the forces that tried to snatch from the people their right to rule and attacked democracy would be fully resisted.
Expressing full confidence in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the declaration said it is expected that the ECP would ensure timely holding of elections and that all necessary steps for the electoral reforms should be taken in light of the Supreme Court ruling and unanimous recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on the Code of Conduct.
The opposition leaders were of the view that the prevailing political situation in the country is a consequence of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government’s failure and had the government controlled the price-hike, unemployment and lawlessness, nobody would have dare today to speak against the democratic. The declaration warned that if compelled, the opposition parties would turn every city of the country into Tahrir Square.
The opposition leaders observed that Dr Tahirul Qadri, the Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran leader who led a long march from Lahore to Islamabad from Sunday and is leading a sit-in in front of the Parliament House in Islamabad since the wee hours of Tuesday, is violating the constitution and committing treason against the constitution. They warned that if President Asif Ali Zardari failed in calling elections immediately, it would prove disastrous.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hassan, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith chief Senator Prof Sajid Mir, Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawabzada Talal Akbar Bugti, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Salim Saifullah Khan of Pakistan Muslim League-Likeminded, former Punjab governor Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Balochistan National Party’s Senior Vice President Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Liaquat Baloch, Awais Noorani of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan-Noorani and Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Raja Zafarul Haq, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Khawaja Asif, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Senator Pervez Rashid, Rana Sanaullah, Ahsan Iqbal, Senator Ishaq Dar and other PML-N leaders attended the meeting.
All participants of the meeting were unanimous that no conspiracy against the democracy would be allowed to succeed. They observed that agenda of Dr Tahirul Qadri is detrimental to the country as well as democracy, hence it is rejected. The participants were of the view that no clown would be allowed to become a puppet, rather he would be resisted at every step as the survival of the country is linked to the democracy and the democratic forces would guard the democracy along with 180 million people of the country.
Flanked by other participants of the meeting, PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif later briefed the media about the declaration, which said that according to the spirit of the constitution of Pakistan, the power is a trust of God that would be exercised through the elected representatives of the people. It said the meeting pledged that every political change would come through free and fair elections in which people would be provided an opportunity to express their will without any fear.
In the declaration, the participants stated that they renew the pledge in this phase of peaceful transfer of power that every unconstitutional step which hindered the public mandate would be rejected strongly. They said they viewed with concern such a step that could cause unrest and chaos in the country and affects the people’s right to rule. They pledged that the forces which attached the constitution and the democracy would be fully resisted.
The participants of the meeting agreed that the personalities having constitutional role regarding the federal and provincial caretaker governments should expand the scope of their consultation to other political parties and all resources should be utilized for this purpose so that such caretaker governments could be installed in which people have full confidence.
The meeting noted that for the first time in the national history, such an Election Commission had been appointed on which all political forces, inside and outside the Parliament, were unanimous and the nation, media and civil society had also expressed full confidence. It observed that the objective of timely elections could not be achieved by making the Election Commission controversial and the meeting was concerned about such attempts.
Expressing full confidence in the ECP, the meeting expressed the hope that the commission would uphold the confidence reposed in it. Regarding the electoral reforms, the meeting demanded all necessary steps should immediately be taken in light of the Supreme Court ruling and unanimous recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Code of Conduct.
The meeting expressed its disappointment about the strategy and failure of the government to overcome the ongoing terrorism and kidnapping for ransom in different parts of the country. Expressing grief and sorrow over killing of Hazara community people in Balochistan, the meeting stressed the need for immediate arrest of the culprits involved in it and checking such incidents. The meeting expressed deep concern about the human rights violations, bloodshed and kidnapping incidents in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, tribal areas and different parts of Karachi and demanded of the government to ensure the security of people’s life and property.
Responding to questions by media persons, the PML-N chief said that the meeting which lasted for hours covered all issues. Regarding the demand of Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri for immediate resignation of President Asif Ali Zardari, he said the demand for the resignation from the two sides seemed to be the part of a collusion or deal. He said that demanding the resignation of President Zardari was a message to the PPP of getting an opportunity to impose the president on the country for another five years, as it had a majority in the National Assembly and Senate so those demanding his resignation should think about it if they understand the constitution.
Mian Nawaz Sharif said the Supreme Court had declared the verdict in the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) case had nothing to do with the prevailing situation. He said the verdict was not delivered by him or anybody else rather it was a decision of the Supreme Court that decided things after due consideration. He said he was still upholding the charter of democracy but alas the PPP too had done so. He said the situation prevailing today was because of the PPP’s incompetence but it could not be described as the failure of the democracy or the system. He said the PPP government could not deliver because of which the present situation had arisen.
The PML-N chief said that so many all-parties conferences were held on the national issues but the decision of none of those was implemented. He asked whether the report of the Abbottabad Commission could be made public. He said the common man was worried because of the government’s failures, as gas and electricity were not available but people had to pay bills and this was the reason that one person had come from abroad to deliver lecture and had the government been delivering, nobody would have dared so.
Mian Nawaz Sharif said Dr Tahirul Qadri was changing his goal posts, as initially he said the electoral reforms were his agenda but now his agenda was expanding and the dissolution of the assemblies and sacking of the Election Commission had been included in the list of demands. He said sometime he gave an ultimatum of five minutes and sometime one hour. He said what was going on, whether this was a circus? He said the women, children, students and teachers associated with Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran participated in the long march.