ARD threatens boycott of polls under Musharraf, EC
By Mubasher Bukhari
LAHORE: The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) has accused the government of “massive rigging” during the local council elections and has threatened to boycott the next general elections if held under President Pervez Musharraf and the present Election Commission (EC). It has also asked for the UN to intervene and hold future general elections in Pakistan.
Addressing a press conference after a meeting, ARD leaders Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Zafar Iqbal Jhagra, Tehmina Daultana, Jehangir Badr and Raja Zafarul Haq said the opposition was considering a number of options including resigning from parliament and launching a countrywide movement against the local council election results.
“We will boycott the next general elections if they are held under President Musharraf and the present EC,” ARD Secretary General Jhagra said. “We’ll consider all options including resigning from parliament and asking the UN to supervise the next general elections in Pakistan,” he added.
However, he said the opposition would take part in the third phase of the local council elections for nazim and reserved seats slated for September. “We are not going to leave the field open for the ruling party. We’ll contest the nazim elections jointly along with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal to give the King’s Party a run for their money,” he said.
The ARD would make the return of exiled leaders Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif a precondition to take part in the next general elections, he said, adding, “We are not going to accept any polls in future if Benazir and Nawaz are not allowed to return to Pakistan and take part.”
Calling the two phases of the local council elections “the biggest fraud in Pakistan’s electoral history”, Jhagra said the results were still being engineered at the EC, as the winners had still not been notified of the results. “The rigging, both on pre-poll and polling day, was historic and the EC is still working on the results to manipulate the outcome,” he claimed.
Pakistan’s rulers should wake up to the ground realities, as discontent in Balochistan had started to brew again, he said, adding, “Efforts by government committees on Balochistan were unsuccessful and the situation in Balochistan has started to worsen. The government’s failure on all fronts is evident.”
The meeting was also participated by a Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) representative who alleged that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement government in Sindh was conspiring to kill breakaway MQM faction leader Afaq Ahmed.