Senators belonging to the embattled PML-N on Friday expressed serious reservations regarding the countrywide elections due in less than a week, and demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan and the caretaker government address their concerns urgently.
Speaking during a session requisitioned by the PML-N, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi warned that “dark clouds are looming over the elections” and that the nation could bear a “heavy loss” if the situation didn’t change.
He said it was the ECP’s responsibility to hold free and fair elections, adding that, besides PML-N, other parties have also expressed reservations over the current circumstances.
He then went on to list several concerns of his party in the lead-up to the polls. Abbasi claimed that political parties are not being allowed opportunities to conduct their election campaigns; that “filters are being installed” before the elections and that police personnel are hounding PML-N leaders.
PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid in his speech said if the results of the July 25 elections come out in favour of “those with empty chairs [at rallies]” — an apparent reference to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf — and against “those with filled rallies” — a reference to the PML-N — then “the anger will not be against the winners, but those who enabled the winners”. “The New York Times is not a PML-N-owned newspaper,” he said. “And neither are other broadcasting houses.”
“You have done the interference that you had to do in the elections,” he said, without naming whom he was addressing. “You have broken and formed political parties using your force.”
“Don’t commit acts that will damage your reputation […] do not interfere in the election results,” he added “This country was not conquered by the royal military army battalion,” Rashtd added.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed meanwhile claimed that some party workers from Okara had called him yesterday and said that they were approached by “people from the agriculture department” — a phrase the PML-N has been using in reference to security personnel — who had asked them to vote for the “jeep”.
Meanwhile, PML-N Senator retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum expressed a lack of confidence in Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Dr Hassan Askari, saying he doesn’t possess the experience required for his post. “The Punjab chief minister can be a good professor [instead],” he said.
Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad taunted the Punjab chief minister, saying his ‘Askari’ surname was befitting because he supports the ‘Askari’ forces.
Senator Qayyum complained that the PML-N government had never registered cases against opponents “even if they protested in front of parliament”, yet his party’s workers have now been booked in various cases in Punjab.