Opposition plans march and sit-in today
ISLAMABAD: Members of several opposition parties, led by PML-N leaders, will march from Parliament House to offices of the nearby Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday (today) “to express solidarity with the ECP and demand its empowerment to ensure free and fair general election”.
PML-N information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan told Dawn on Sunday those participating in the march would stage a brief sit-in near the ECP building where some leaders would deliver speeches.
He alleged that hurdles were being created in the way of the ECP which was struggling to implement the Supreme Court’s order about verification of voters’ list in Karachi.
Answering a question, he said a number of political parties, including Jamaat-i-Islami, PML (Functional), Qaumi Watan Party of Aftab Ahmed Sherpao and some nationalist parties of Sindh, had announced that they would join the sit-in.
However, he made it clear that it would be a symbolic sit-in and added the PML-N had not given any call for people to participate in it.
Unveiling the plan for a sit-in near the ECP offices, leader of opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had said on Jan 26 that free and fair elections would remain an elusive dream unless the ECP was given a free hand to carry out its tasks.
Later, speaking at a news conference, Mr Khan said his party had submitted to the ECP a list of bureaucrats and heads of various institutions and demanded their removal before the polls.
He said the demand would formally be presented to the ECP in the form of a memorandum during the sit-in.
The PML-N wants removal of the provincial governors, IGs, chief commissioner of Islamabad, provincial chief secretaries and home secretaries, attorney general and advocates general, federal and provincial secretaries of finance, information, cabinet and establishment divisions, heads of the FIA, PTV, Intelligence Bureau, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, Nadra, Pemra and senior members of the board of revenue.
Moreover, the party wants that the ambassadors ‘appointed on political basis’, particularly in the US and the UK, are called back before the polls.
When asked how the ECP could make the changes, the PML-N leader had said the commission could at least ask the caretaker government to do so.
Another purpose of the sit-in, according to the PML-N, is to register its protest over prolonged delay in appointment of opposition leaders in Sindh and Balochistan assemblies.
The party has invited the opposition leaders from Sindh to join the sit-in.
The PML-N leaders allege that the voters’ verification exercise is not being carried out in Karachi in accordance with the SC’s decision. Instead of army, they allege, members of a particular political party are accompanying election commission teams during door-to-door verification.