International desk, July 28: A multi-party conference (MPC) in Pakistan called to devise a joint strategy over alleged rigging in the 2018 general elections on Friday rejected the results of the poll, demanding a “transparent” re-election.Attended by leaders of various parties, the MPC was chaired by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman. It was held at the Islamabad residence of MMA leader Mian Aslam.
“The All Parties Conference has completely rejected the July 25, 2018 elections with consensus,” announced Rehman while addressing the media after the PML-N-hosted conference concluded.
“We do not consider this election to be the mandate of the public, but a theft of people’s mandate.”
In a reference to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), he said the leaders in attendance do not accept “the majority of those claiming to have won the majority”.
Rehman said the elected candidates of the parties whose leaders attended the MPC will not take oath. However, he hastened to add that Shahbaz Sharif had requested to be allowed to consult his party over the move first.
He said a movement will be started, and protests will be held to demand a re-election, the schedule of which would be decided by a committee within a day or two. The MPC will also approach other parties who have concerns over the elections but could not attend today’s meeting, he announced.
“We will not let democracy be held hostage by any establishment,” he declared.
The JUI-F chief said the parliament had approved a grant of Rs20 billion for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the polls, questioning: “Are these the elections it [ECP] has conducted?”
He claimed that the ECP had failed to command the results of the elections despite “wasting so much public money”. Returning, presiding and other officers “remained a hostage to the army personnel” and did not hand over results of the parties’ polling agents, he alleged.
“We will not let these thieves even enter the parliament,” Rehman warned.
Shahbaz said Wednesday’s elections saw the “worst irregularities”, the examples of which are not found in Pakistani history.
The PPP had earlier on Friday decided not to attend the conference, with a spokesperson saying its leadership will devise its own strategy regarding alleged poll irregularities.
In attendance at the MPC were Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Senator Sirajul Haq, Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, Qaumi Watan Party chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, National Party’s Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai and several MMA leaders.
PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Chaudhry Tanveer and Khurram Dastagir and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) leaders Mustafa Kamal, Raza Haroon and Waseem Ahmed also participated.
Interestingly, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-P) leader Dr Farooq Sattar also showed up to the conference, despite reports that his party has agreed to join the PTI-led government in the centre after a contact between PTI leader Jehangir Tareen and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.
Speaking at the MPC, Sattar alleged that the July 25 polls were “rigged massively” and the results were altered.
“Results of their choice were devised and the party of their choice was made to win,” he claimed.
The MMA had on Thursday rejected the poll results outright, calling for declaring the entire electoral exercise “null and void”.
The recently revived alliance of five religio-political parties suffered a drubbing in the elections and even its chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and JI emir Sirajul Haq tasted defeat in their native constituencies.
The PML-N too had decided to take all major parties, including the PPP and obviously excluding the PTI, on board to formulate a joint strategy to take up the rigging issue that it believes has deprived it of majority in the coming National Assembly.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb had told Dawn that any decision about whether or not to boycott parliament would be taken after consulting other parties at the MPC.