LAHORE - A close aide to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif doubts that free and fair elections will be possible under the supervision of the judiciary, as planned by the Election Commission of Pakistan, and alleges that the PML-N is being weakened before the process.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid also said while talking to The Nation on Saturday that the PML-N had never expressed any desire for a meeting between Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and the party would not know about the outcome thereof unless Mr Abbasi briefed it.

A former information minister who had to step down after the Dawnleaks controversy, Pervaiz Rashid proposed that all political parties should agree to a line of action to keep all institutions within the limits prescribed by the Constitution.

Answering a question about the PML-N’s satisfaction over the steps taken so far by the ECP for free and fair elections, he said the general elections of 2013 was also held under the supervision of the judiciary and most of the parties still call it ROs election, which clearly raised questions about its fairness. He implied that another election supervised by the same institution would also be remembered the same way.

Fresh delimitation of constituencies has affected the PML-N and its seats have been reduced in a province where it has a greater popular following, he complained.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid said his party doubted the fairness of the 2018 polls also because its leader Nawaz Sharif was disqualified as prime minister on a pretext which even the PML-N rivals found difficult to digest. Also, he said, the party was deprived of its election symbol at the time of the recent Senate elections, as a result of which those winning with the backing of this party are not being regarded as PML-N members. “I feel that the PML-N is being weakened before the elections.”

Substantiating his doubts about the fairness of the next elections, he said nobody should forget that names of officials responsible for redemarcation of constituencies have not been made public.

About the PM-CJP meeting and the outcome the PML-N expected from it, the former information minister claimed that the party did not know anything about it. It was an apolitical rendezvous with which the ruling party had nothing to do.

“I’ll not be in a position to answer the question about its outcome unless the prime minister briefs the party.”

According to him, the PML-N had never expressed the desire for the meeting in question nor had it ever felt the need for it. The premier met the CJP as the head of government, not as a worker of the PML-N, he clarified.

Asked whether the PML-N would like to take the initiative for a similar dialogue with the opposition parties to bring down the political temperature, he said talks between them should be held in parliament and they should adopt a joint course of action.

He said it was a common realisation that limits set by the constitution for various institutions were not being adhered to which was a setback for the parliamentary democratic system. If the same trend continued, he warned, “the balance between various institutions would get disturbed, leading to harmful results”.

The feeling of the institutions not working within their limits was widespread and media and lawyers bodies were openly talking about the same, he pointed out.

He advised all parties not to take political matters to courts and matters that can be settled through vote should not be settled through petitions in courts.

Without naming the PML-N but leaving least doubt that he was referring to it, Senator Pervaiz Rashid said a party that has greater chances of success in the next elections was being damaged through various steps. If other parties kept silent (over this unfair practice) they may have to face the same situation in the times ahead, he warned.

Q: Why is the economy going down every day when all policy decisions are probably taken by Mian Nawaz Sharif who Mr Abbasi has repeatedly said is “my prime minister?”

A: A country’s economy is linked to the international relations and world economies. The world has expressed serious reservations about the domestic and foreign policies of Pakistan, and the latter has failed to satisfy the international community. All state institutions would have to play their role to set the situation right.

When an elected prime minister was removed on baseless allegations, foreign investors changed their opinion of Pakistan. Its rating in international forums changed and now the country may be blacklisted, he feared.



PML-N doubts fair elections under judiciary