Fazl cancels PDM protests to focus on election, long march preparations

Qaiser says arrested parliamentarians will be summoned if they make a formal request

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the alliance of 11 opposition parties, has decided to cancel its protest rallies scheduled for February 23 and 27 to better prepare itself for the March 3 Senate elections as well the planned long march.

According to a source in the PDM, the alliance chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday made telephonic contact with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

The source said that both the politicians decided to cancel PDM’s rallies in Sargodha on February 23 in view of the country’s Senate election and the opposition’s long march. Both the politicians also decided to cancel the February 27 protest in Khuzdar, Balochistan, to focus on Senate polls.

The source said that Fazl later directed all parties to expedite preparations for the long march. He said that all parties should expedite the preparations for the Senate elections and the long march.

Meanwhile, National Assembly (NA) Speaker Asad Qaiser has decided not to issue production orders for all detained members of the lower house for the Senate elections until and unless the imprisoned politicians make a formal request.

According to an official source, Qaiser has said that voting is the right of every member and production orders of detained members will only be issued if the concerned lawmaker makes a formal request as per law.

It is pertinent to mention here that opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif, Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) Khurshid Shah and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Ali Wazir are in jail.

The source said that the speaker would only issue production orders for the jailed lawmakers if the NA Secretariat received requests for issuance of production orders.
<span;>It may be recalled that polling for the Senate elections will be held in the National Assembly Hall on March 3 and the detained members need to be shifted to Islamabad by the evening of March 2.

It may be recalled that the schedule of Senate elections in Pakistan has been released. A statement issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan said that the Senate elections in the country will be held on March 3, according to the statement of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Earlier, while addressing a workers’ convention at Swabi, Qaisar said that the present government had come into power with a mandate against corruption. He ruled out a compromise with those who had sold their votes in Senate polls.

The NA speaker has said that he condemns such acts as he had always stood for honour and prestige and would continue it in future also.

He maintained that the tradition of the secret ballot in Senate elections should end now, so the people should know the actual situation. He said that in past some elected representatives have bargained their conscious.

Qaiser said that due to blunders committed by the previous government, PML-N is now turning into a regional political party and added that slogans chanted by them are neither in the interest of the public nor in the interest of the country.

He stressed that they could not achieve their nefarious designs through chanting such hateful slogans. He asked PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz to tender an apology to the nation over the slogans.

He said that talks of national development do not align with those who had played havoc with the country and they should feel shame for their misdeeds. He maintained that PML-N had ruined Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM)  and other national institutions during their rule.

The NA speaker added that, due to best economic and political policies of the present government, the country has been put on the right track that is not digested by the flopped rulers of the past. He asked the opposition to refrain from making futile attempts of dividing the country and nation for the sake of achieving political objectives.

Meanwhile, the committee to investigate the alleged vote-buying in the 2018 Senate elections in its first meeting held on Saturday decided to invite the journalist who released the video on the media.

It also decided to request those who might have firsthand information or knowledge of the incident to share it with the committee either in writing or in-person.

The committee, constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan, comprises of Federal Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, and Advisor to PM on Accountability and Interior Shehzad Akbar.

Taking notice of the undermining of democracy by vote purchasing especially in Senate elections, the committee decided to make the office of the minister of human rights as the secretariat of the committee and finalised the procedure to be followed.

As per the details in the press release, the committee would probe who were the beneficiaries of the purchased votes and who allegedly provided the money to purchase the votes of MPAs.

It would then recommend actions to be taken on the matter.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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