MANDI BAHAUDDIN - Pakistan Awami Tehreek President Dr Raheeq Ahmad Abbasi said on Friday that fair and transparent elections could not be held until the Election Commission of Pakistan was not reconstituted according to the Constitution.

Addressing the PAT workers' convention, he said that the present Election Commission would not be able to work independently to block thieves, tax-evaders and looters from contesting the elections. There was a strong apprehension among the people that if the general elections were held under the present Election Commission, the same corrupt leaders would return to the assemblies and continue their malpractices, he added.

He said that the Supreme Court turned down the petition filed by Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, on the ground that his loyalty was suspected for holding dual nationalities. He said his party was struggling to end the era of injustice, exploitation of the people by corrupt rulers who over the period had established monopoly over the national resources. They take part in politics to save their vested interest and not for the public welfare, he said.

"When they say they would not let democracy derail it means that they do not want real democracy which allows public participation in decision-making. Holding of election is not my party's compulsion. It is the compulsion of those who want to return to the assemblies through stereotyped election system," he said.

He said the 23 December public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan Lahore arranged by the TMQ to welcome their chief had jolted the rulers. The Long March on 14 Jan and the sit-in at Islamabad had also opened the rulers' eyes. He said Tahirul Qadri had been recognised as great leader of the Muslims and his struggle spread over last 32 years was bearing fruits in the form of increase in his followers who had created awareness among the public about their rights.

He said that on March 17, another public meeting would be held at Liaqat Bagh, Rawalpindi and, he expressed the hope, it would be attended by millions of people. On the occasion, he said, Mr Tahirul Qadri would expose the true faces of corrupt rulers. Earlier, PAT workers welcomed Dr Raheeq Abbasi at Sat Sira and brought him in a big procession at the place of meeting. At the end of meeting, Dr Raheeq asked local PAT leaders to attend the meeting to be held at Rawalpindi on 17 March.