PDM rejects electoral reforms, announces to restart anti-govt rallies

LAHORE: The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) while rejecting the government’s “one-sided” electoral reforms, has announced to start a new round of anti-government rallies across the country.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad after an hours-long meeting — flanked by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and other prominent PDM figures — Head of the party Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the present government is unelected and unable to face any emerging challenge.

He said that PDM plans to hold large protest rallies for mobilization of the public, with a rally on July 4 in Swat, July 29 in Karachi and a grand protest in Islamabad on August 14 to celebrate Independence Day.

The PDM chief also rejected the government’s proposal to hold the next elections through electronic voting machines (EVMs).

He said, “Election Commission of Pakistan, which is the poll supervisory body, should call a meeting of all political parties in the country  and devise a joint map on election reforms.” Terming EVMs an attempt of pre-polling rigging, the JUI-F chief said that the anti-government coalition has also rejected the presidential ordinance issued in this regard.

He said the opposition has demanded that the ECP, which is constitutionally responsible for conducting free and fair elections, should instantly call a session of all political parties to devise a package on electoral reforms which can be presented in parliament.”

The PDM chief also urged the government to call a joint session of the parliament and brief the lawmakers about the Afghan peace process. “The government should issue clarifications on rumors that Pakistan is planning to offer the US army bases after the troop’s withdrawal from Afghanistan,” he demanded.

Replying to a question regarding the return of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Awami National Party to the PDM, he said the issues were not discussed in the meeting. Later, Maryam Nawaz said it was a non-issue.

He said the PPP should accept the stance of PDM  and should not try to impose its own point of view. “PPP considers only itself wise and not the nine other parties in the alliance,” he added.

Earlier, PPP and ANP had parted ways with the alliance after receiving show-cause notice over a disagreement with regard to the appointment of the leader of opposition in the upper house of the parliament.

On Friday, PML-N leaders had met Rehman in an attempt to keep the conglomerate intact. The meeting took place amid media reports that there is a rift between two PML-N groups, one being led by the party president and the other by the daughter of the party’s supreme leader.