Govt ‘exacting revenge on ECP’ for by-polls, Senate setback

Maryam accuses Centre of trying to cancel her bail so that PML-N cannot participate in long march

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Monday lashed out at the incumbent government for demanding the resignations of the electoral body’s members, saying that if the ruling PTI could not get the desired number of votes in last month’s by-polls and in the Senate elections, then “what is the point in exacting revenge on the ECP”.

“Today, the whole nation must have understood what it is like to criticize institutions and to attack them,” Maryam Nawaz told media persons at her Jati Umra residence after attending a consultative meeting, chaired by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif from London. Other party leaders, including Hamza Shehbaz, also participated online.

“We have heard during and after our tenure that the PML-N criticizes the institutions but this has not gone beyond allegations,” Maryam Nawaz said.

“If you did not get votes in Daska, Nowshera or Wazirabad, Sindh, Balochistan or other cities of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, then what is the fault of the Election Commission and why are you taking revenge from it?” she asked. “You attacked the Election Commission for your loss.”

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also said that instead of apologizing to the Election Commission, “today, the entire cabinet and government has attacked the Election Commission”.

“These people will not stop here,” Abbasi said. “[Prime Minister] Imran Khan has destroyed the economy and national institutions.”

On the National Accountability Bureau’s plea, requesting the Lahore High Court to cancel her bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, Maryam said, “My bail cancellation petition was written to stop the PML-N from [attending] the long march.”

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She said that NAB’s bail revocation request was a joke. “NAB is a political engineering institute which has also failed.”

Maryam said the en masse resignation issue of the Pakistan Democratic Movement will be clarified in its meeting today (Tuesday). “We will try to persuade those who do not agree on the resignations’ move.”

Meanwhile, addressing a news conference in Islamabad, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the long march scheduled for March 26 would not be of much use without en masse resignations from parliament.

“The betrayal of a single member does not change the position of the party,” Fazl said. “The opposition is united and will remain so.”

He said an important PDM meeting will be held on Tuesday in which the final strategy regarding the long march will be decided and the issue of resignations will also be discussed.

“The long march will not last one day, it will continue till the goals are achieved,” Fazl vowed, adding that the entire nation will start a long march against the government from March 26 and all the caravans will enter Islamabad on March 30. “The venue of the sit-in will be decided at the PDM meeting. Even, the coronavirus can’t stop us.”

Addressing a news conference in Hyderabad, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was of the view that the option of resignations should be the last resort, terming it “an atom bomb”.

“At this time our cards of parliament and no-confidence motion are being successfully played. We need to put more emphasis on this strategy.”

He recalled that on the PPP’s advice, the PDM took the mutual decisions of participating in the by-elections, the election of senators, and the Senate chairman and deputy’s election.

He contended that the opposition defeated the ruling coalition in all the three contests, including the Senate chairman’s elections in which the PDM’s candidate Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani bagged 49 votes against Sadiq Sanjrani’s 48.

However, Sanjrani won against Gilani after seven votes of the latter were canceled.

He asserted that the PDM should take a serious political decision so that more political loss could be rendered to the government and the target of the supremacy of the Constitution and parliament could be achieved to some extent.

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He argued that if the opposition had boycotted all those three elections and started the sit-in protest, prime minister Imran Khan would have been celebrating his electoral gains.

To a query about the movement’s success in making the establishment neutral in the political tug of war, the PPP’s chairman said the hope is still alive. “Keeping the hope to see the establishment neutral isn’t a bad thing … We also don’t believe that one jalsa, one speaks of the PDM can achieve this goal of neutrality.”

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