KARACHI: Representatives of political parties expressed on Monday their reservations over unnecessary restrictions imposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and caretaker government regarding the election campaigns. They were speaking at an all parties’ conference organised by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N).
Major political parties of the city, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazl and Awami National Party, attended the conference. However, some parties such as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pak Sarzameen Party opted not to participate in the event.
Demanding a level playing field for all contestants, political leaders at the conference criticised the ECP for not allowing them to use banners and flags beyond a particular size. They also threatened that they would resort to protests if the ECP did not address their grievances.
“Banners and flags of particular political parties are being removed from different areas to give a go-ahead to a few parties which are considered sacred cows,” said PML-N leader Rana Mashhood. He called for the uniform implementation of rules for all the political parties. “Why a few parties are exempted from [rules]. The Election Commission should [clarify this], otherwise, we will protest against this practice,” he said, alleging that a situation was deliberately being created to help some particular parties win elections.
PML-N Sindh President Shah Muhammad Shah suggested that a delegation of political parties meet the provincial chief election commissioner to brief him about the problems being faced by them. “It seems to be an engineered election,” he remarked, adding that the PML-N would not boycott the polls come what may.
PPP leader Saeed Ghani decried that banners and flags of his party were being removed from various constituencies in the city. “This will definitely affect our election campaign,” he said. Ghani also remarked that the code of conduct prepared by the ECP was full of mistakes.
“We printed banners and flags as per the election commission’s directives, but the police are not listening to us and taking action against our campaign material without serving us notice or informing us in advance,” said Muslim Parvez of the JI.
The JI representative added that the party was not being given permissions to hold public meetings. He accused districts’ administration of employing delaying tactics whenever the JI applied for organising rallies.
Amir Moin Pirzada of the MQM-P suggested that protests be carried out in front of the office of the provincial election commission. “Pre poll rigging has started to ensure election of certain candidates from Karachi,” he claimed.