Opposition parties on Wednesday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to deploy armed forces at and around polling stations during the local government elections scheduled for Saturday.
In an emergency meeting called by the Pakistah Tehreek-i-Insaf Punjab organiser Chauhdry Sarwar, representatives of Pakistan Peoples Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek and the Jamaat-i-Islami said they would take the matter to court on Thursday (today), if the ECP did not agree to deploy the armed forces for the elections.
The PTI representatives included Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Umer Sarafraz cheema, Lahore Organiser Shafqat Mahmood and political adviser to Imran Khan, Abdul Aleem Khan. Led by Sarwar, the delegation discussed the law and order situation in Lahore. Representatives of opposition parties agreed that deployment of the armed forces was necessary for peaceful local government elections.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Sarwar said two PTI workers had been attacked by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ahead of local government elections. Sarwar said Punjab Police was in cahoots with the PML-N.
“This has created an atmosphere in which peaceful elections are impossible,” he said.
Sarwar said law and order situation across the province was deteriorating.
“The ECP must seek deployment of army personnel,” Sarwar said. He said the PTI had called a legal team to file a petition in Lahore High Court seeking army personnel for election security.
Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said though the ECP had barred new development expenditure ahead of local government polls, the government was issuing billions on such initiatives. “This is pre-poll rigging and the ECP should take notice of it,” he said.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek General Secretary Khurram Nawaz Gandapur said it was free and fair elections in the current atmosphere were impossible unless Pakistan Army was called in. PML-Q Lahore president Mian Munir reiterated a similar stance, saying that it was ironic that the police was protecting criminals.
Jamaat-i-Islami Punjab chief Mian Maqsood said several relatives of police officers, including the inspector general, were contesting LG polls on PML-N tickets.
PPP Lahore president Samina Khalid Ghurki said the PML-N was using state machinery for its campaign.
She said opposition parties had a united stance on the role of Pakistan Army in local government polls.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2015.