Opposition joint candidate to contest president election Strategy for protests inside and outside

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parliament against polls rigging considered

Our Correspondent

Murree

Opposition parties have agreed to field a joint candidate in the forthcoming presidential election for which a panel has been constituted to choose three individuals.
The decision was made at a conference of opposition parties held here on Saturday. The meeting pondered over different names for the joint presidential nominee.
“We have agreed to name a joint candidate for the office of the president. But the name will be announced on Sunday because PPP leader have asked for some time to take their leadership into confidence over the discussion,” PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal told media persons after a conference of opposition parties held in Murree on Saturday.
“All opposition parties have also supported the overseas Pakistanis’ right to voting. However, they have expressed concerns about the haste being demonstrated in this regard,” he said. A panel has been constituted for presenting three names to opposition parties for candidacy for the office of the president. Led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the body would have one member each from Pakistan Muslim League-N and Pakistan People’s Party, while one neutral member would be also be part of the panel.
The panel would shortlist three names by Sunday after which opposition parties will pick the final name, sources added. PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif chaired the All Parties Conference — the alliance of opposition parties which includes the PPP, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Awami National Party, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, National Party, Qaumi Watan Party and Pak Sarzameen Party.
PkMAP leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai did not attend the meeting owing to prior commitments, however, he said he would support the APC’s decisions.
The meeting decided that all allied parties will play the role of a strong opposition from now onwards, agreeing that all opposition parties would partake in “Insaf Do (Serve Justice)” campaign, according to the sources.
However, the forum delayed the agenda of Senate chairman’s replacement until the next meeting. The PML-N and PPP have been in disagreement over the nomination of Aitzaz Ahsan for the post of country’s president. Earlier, the PML-N stated that Ahsan could not be considered a joint opposition candidate. The meeting was held at deposed premier Nawaz Sharif’s residence in Murree.
The opposition also considered a strategy centred around protests inside and outside the parliament against alleged rigging in the general elections. The PML-N stressed on fielding a joint candidate instead of PPP senior leader Aitzaz Ahsan. PML-N’s acting Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, addressing the media after the huddle, said the opposition would announce its joint candidate for the head of state’s office today.
“It is important for Pakistan that the opposition come together and nominate a joint candidate for the office,” he said. Speaking on behalf of the opposition parties, Iqbal, while supporting the right to vote for overseas Pakistanis, nonetheless criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan for trying to implement the electronic polling process ‘in haste’ before the upcoming by-polls.
“The election commission’s online system already failed during the general elections. We therefore disagree with the hasty implementation of the [electronic] system of voting for overseas Pakistanis,” Iqbal said.
Touching upon alleged “threats” received by opposition leaders, Iqbal said: “ It is the duty of the government to provide security to opposition leaders, and the incumbent government should take notice of the threatening calls made to certain leaders of opposition parties.”

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