Fazl says EVM ‘simplest way to rig elections’ as PDM rejects electoral reforms, AJK poll results

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Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday declared the electronic voting machine as the “simplest way to rig elections” as the alliance rejected the government’s “unilateral” electoral reforms and Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s election results.

Fazl’s remarks came following a meeting between the Opposition alliance in Islamabad after a two-month hiatus, during which it was decided PDM will “direct all its efforts in ensuring free and fair elections [take place] in the country.”

The meeting’s participants unanimously agreed the “country faces grave internal and external threats”, and that the incumbent government has “completely failed” in combating the prevailing threats, the PDM chief said.

“Pakistan is facing isolation due to the current regime’s policies,” the PDM chief said, slamming the government for its “failed” foreign policy.

He recalled how recently Pakistan was not allowed to present its case during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Afghanistan.

“PDM believes the only way forward in Afghanistan is through an inclusive political solution;. Pakistan aspires for a political and stable Afghanistan,” Fazl said.

Fazl said the PDM leaders took an in-depth review of the internal and external challenges facing Pakistan, after which, the meeting’s participants demanded that Opposition lawmakers be taken into confidence over the situation in the neighbouring war-torn country.

“An important section of the country is unaware of the situation as facts are being hidden from them,” the JUI-F chief said.

Speaking about the PDM’s next course of action, he said the alliance’s steering committee would hold a meeting on August 21 in Islamabad, during which the parties will mull over the recommendations presented today after internal deliberations.

The PDM chief said final decisions will be made in the committee’s meeting on August 28 in Karachi, following which, on August 29, a massive rally will be held in the port city.

“At this time, there is no constitutional governance in the country […] attacks on freedom of expression are rampant, journalists are being ambushed,” he said, adding PDM had condemned the acts.

All institutions should work within the constitutional framework so that the country can follow the Constitution in earnest, Fazl said.

“We reject each and every electoral reform put forward by this selected government, and we believe that NAB and FIA have become political institutions, who have lost their standing, as they are being used against the Opposition,” he said.

The PDM demands cases registered by the FIA against journalists be taken back, he said, adding that the government end its tactics to gag the press.

The meeting also decided that Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Sherpao will be made the senior vice-president of the alliance, he said.

Fazl said the government has “bled the people dry” with historic inflation and unemployment, in its bid to meet the conditions of the International Monetary Fund.

Taking over the press conference, Shahbaz said PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s medical treatment was underway in the UK, and a heart-related operation of his was crucial.

“He (Nawaz) will not return without getting treated; it is unfortunate that the government is politicising the health of a three-time prime minister,” Shahbaz said.

The PML-N president reminded everyone that several people had “stooped so low” that when Nawaz’s wife was on her death bed, they would make “absurd” comments about her health.

JUI-F and PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman presided over the meeting of the alliance, with Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Mahmood Khan Achakzai in attendance.

PML-N Senator Prof Sajid Mir, National Party Senator Mir Kabir Mohammad Shahi, JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani, Qaumi Watan Party leader Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan Shah Owais Noorani also attended the meeting.

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz attended the meeting via video link, while other party leaders were present in person.

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