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PTI stages nationwide protest outside ECP offices

PML-N govt officials say Imran 'blackmailing' election commission

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers on Tuesday staged a sit-in outside provincial offices of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), condemning the alleged biased conduct of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.

According to details, the demonstrations were held in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gujrat and Faisalabad, among other cities.

The Red Zone in the federal capital was sealed due to the protest. However, PTI workers, led by the former member of provincial assembly Ali Nawaz Awan, protested at the Nadra Chowk.

A heavy contingent of police was deployed outside the ECP in Islamabad after the protest was announced, and Section 144 – prohibiting the gathering of four or more people in an area – was enforced in the Red Zone by the deputy commissioner of Islamabad.

Meanwhile, former interior minister Sheikh Rashid and PTI leader Shibli Faraz spoke to the media during the protest out the ECP office. Faraz claimed thousands of party members were unable to reach the site of demonstration as “routes have been blocked”.

Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid and PTI leader Shibli Faraz speak to the media during the protest outside the ECP office in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

However, he said, this would make little difference as “everyone knows that people from the across the country can gather even on an hour’s notice on the call of Imran Khan”.

For his part, Rashid said even if the “government and entire establishment come together, they cannot stop the elections from taking place”. He went on to say: “Our position was not as good as it is now because of these fools.”

Making an allusion to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his entourage, who will be leaving for his first foreign trip as the country’s premier this week, Rashid added: “Robbers, looters and thugs are going to Saudi Arabia. They got their names removed from the ECL.”

Karachi

Similarly, the party also staged a protest outside the Election Commission Sindh offices in Karachi where Sindh Assembly members and workers chanted anti-ECP slogans.  Police were deployed outside the ECP office in Karachi ahead of the protest and three mobile vans were also present at the site.

According to a statement issued by PTI spokesperson Saddam Kumbhar, Opposition Leader in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh and other party leaders, including Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Bilal Ghaffar, Aftab Siddiqui, Raja Azhar and Saifur Rehman, were among the demonstrators.

The statement said Haleem Adil addressed the protesters on the occasion, saying: “We are here to make the shameless feel some shame.”

Without naming anyone, he added, “You were the election commission. Since when did you become the corruption commission.” The PTI leader called the present times “black days”, further dubbing the ECP the “patron of turncoats”.

Peshawar

Chaos was witnessed outside the ECP office in Peshawar as PTI members attempted to barge into the building. They were stopped by police deployed outside the ECP office’s gate.

PTI lawmakers from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, including Zahir Shah and Abdul Salam, were among the protesters, who raised slogans against the CEC, calling him biased.

They questioned why only the PTI’s funding was being investigated while other parties were not facing similar probes. The protest ended in Peshawar around 1pm.

Lahore

In Lahore, a large contingent of police was deployed outside the ECP office and barriers were placed as citizens were barred from entering the building.

Addressing the protesters outside the ECP office, PTI leader Mehmoodur Rasheed demanded that “turncoats in the party be de-seated and preparations are made for the next elections”.

“If the ECP does not mend its way, a protest would be staged daily,” he said, adding that a reference against dissident PTI members had been filed in the ECP and a decision on it should be made.

Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid said the ECP’s “partisan behaviour” was unacceptable and added that there was no need to delay the matter of “turncoats”.

“These are the people who sold their consciences … and Pakistan,” she said, demanding that they be de-seated immediately. Later, the protest ended as the protesters dispersed.

The PTI had announced on Sunday that it would start staging protests outside ECP offices from today, alleging that the CEC had been biased against the party.

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