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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an anti-government alliance of 11 opposition parties, lambasted the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday, alleging that it failed to hold free and fair general elections in 2018, and demanded the electoral body complete proceedings of the foreign funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as well as announce the related verdict “at the earliest.” “This ECP was helpless against the powerful institutions and it could not hold free and fair elections,” said Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, the PDM chief, addressing a rally outside ECP that was held to press the ECP to the conclude foreign funding case against PTI forthwith.

However, contrary to the expectations, the rally apparently failed to attract any sizeable crowd in support of its demand.

In addition, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari did not attend the rally as he was in Umerkot, Sindh, to address a public gathering following the victory of PPP’s Ameer Shah against Arbab Ghulam Rahim of Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) in the by-poll on a Sindh Assembly seat a day earlier. Bilawal was represented by a PPP delegation. Moreover, the rally ended with opposition having failed to announce any concrete plan of action for future.

“A selected government is in place due to the most controversial elections in the history of Pakistan organised by ECP,” Fazal said.

“An incompetent ruler is placed in the saddle—he is just a puppet and someone else is pulling the strings,” he added.

Coming down hard on Prime Minister Imran Khan, the PDM chief said Khan received funding from “India and Israel.”

Rehman said the ruling party PTI was trying its level best to shelve the foreign funding case, and, he added, it had moved as many as 50 applications to ECP seeking postponement of the case proceedings.

The PDM leader said scores of students of different seminaries of Pakistan would participate in Kashmir rallies on February 5 and protests against Israel on Feb 21.

Responding to allegations levelled by the government that he was using seminary students for his political motives, Rehman said: “These students are very wise—they are well aware of what is going on in the country. You (government) say that you want to integrate seminary students in mainstream but you want to deprive them of their rights to assemble here. What are you afraid of? Why do you fear seminary students?”

Vice President Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Maryam Nawaz said the purpose of PDM gathering was to remind the ECP of its constitutional responsibility. “Wake up to your constitutional obligations and play your role for reviving the respect of public mandate,” she said.

Maryam termed the foreign funding case “the biggest fraud in the history of Pakistan.”

She added: “The ECP acted as a silent spectator, its hands were tied, and there was greatest electoral fraud in the history of Pakistan in 2018 general elections.”

She said: “There have been just 70 hearings of the foreign funding case since 2014. This speaks volumes of ECP intentions to hide the corruption of the ruling party."

“On the other hand, matters get expedited and cases are decided within days when the person in question is Nawaz Sharif,” she said, demanding the ECP decide the foreign funding case at the earliest.

“If everything is alright in the foreign funding case, and you have nothing to hide, then why do you want secret hearing of this case?” she said.

Maryam also accused the PTI of receiving funds from India and Israel, claiming that State Bank of Pakistan unearthed “23 secret accounts of PTI.”

She alleged that Inder Dosanjh from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India and Barry Schneps from Israel funded Imran Khan.

“How can you take up the plight of Kashmiris with India? How can you highlight the Kashmir issue when you take funds from India? This is the reason you threw Kashmir to India,” she said.

The PTI “admitted” receiving foreign funding through its agents in the United States, she said

“Even though a visibly thin turnout of people was witnessed at the rally, Maryam claimed otherwise. “This huge crowd of people—if things are like that here in the rally, imagine what it would be like when flood of people would be here for long march,” she said.

Raja Pervez Ashraf from PPP demanded ECP decide foreign funding case immediately.

He said that his party and people wanted implementation of the Constitution in letter and spirit. “The ECP must give up its bias and treat all the political parties equally,” he said.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan should be disqualified as his party received foreign funding from Jews and Hindus,” he said.

PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal said the PTI government “destroyed” everything in the country, including the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.”

“Everything is either destroyed or is on the verge of collapse. It’s high time this selected government that was elevated at the helm of affairs from ill gotten money must be shown the door. It must be sent packing, the sooner the better,” he said.

Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai urged people to stage a “revolt” against the government. He asked Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman “to issue a Fatwa that people can loot and plunder official go-downs to quench their hunger. This is justified when people are dying of hunger. Anything is justified in a situation like this,” he said as his seemingly highly controversial remarks put the PDM leaders in apparent unease.

PPP's Secretary General Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said: “Imran Khan acknowledged that foreign funding had taken place. Imran says that he is not responsible if the agents did something wrong.”

Later, the participants dispersed from the site and the rally ended without receiving any assurance from ECP on the foreign funding case.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021