Lahore - Top leadership of the PTI, which was desirous to make its today’s anti-rigging demonstration in Faisalabad an event of major opposition parties, succeeded only to get the participation of the Sunni Ittehad Council, as the PML-Q, PPP and JI politely refused to join the tsunami.

This development has given a serious blow to the PTI efforts to form a grand opposition alliance focusing electoral reforms in the first phase, which would later take up other issues facing the country.  In the second round of the PTI anti-rigging demonstration, the SIC, an amalgam of about 20 religious parties belonging to Barelvi school of thought, announced support to participate in the PTI show today under the leadership of Sahibzada Hamid Raza.  PTI leadership including Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi and Jahangir Tareen were tasked by party chairman Imran Khan to get the participation of major opposition parties in the anti-rigging demonstration in Faisalabad today, making it an event of grand opposition.  The PTI had held its first anti-rigging protest at D-Chowk, Islamabad on May 11, and Imran had announced that they party would continue demonstrations till it gets justice.

Imran had also announced to hold demonstration in Faisalabad on May 23. However, with the consultation of party’s senior leadership, it was delayed for two days, giving ample time to the party leadership for extending invitations to all major opposition and likeminded parties for participating in the Faisalabad show.  When contacted, PTI vice chairman and core committee member Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the Sunni Ittehad Council would participate in the anti-rigging demonstration today, as SIC chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza gave his nod for joining the PTI tsunami during a meeting.

Another key member of the PTI who is also part of the party’s core committee (policy-making forum) told this correspondent that party’s top leaders, who have been assigned the task of ensuring participation of major opposition parties by Imran, made efforts to achieve the target but unfortunately couldn’t succeed to transform May 25 event a show of larger or grand opposition. He claimed that the leaders would continue their efforts, and hoped that they would make new anti-rigging demonstration a show of major opposition parties.  The PTI’s key member said, “As the anti-rigging campaign will continue till the justice is done, so it doesn’t matter that all the major opposition parties are not coming in today’s show, and they would join us our later demonstrations.”

When asked about the party chairman’s direct contacts to invite heads of major opposition parties, he claimed that the party chief hasn’t discussed anything in this regard with top party leadership.

According to him, the party emissaries have asked the PML-Q, PPP, JI, SIC and some other religious parties to join the demonstration; however, the SIC is the only religious political group that has given nod to take part in the demonstration.

When contacted, PML-Q Punjab spokesperson Seemal Kamran said, “We are busy in Pak Army solidarity rallies, while the party’s top leadership has only extended its help to the PTI for reforms in the electoral commission which included the demand for resignation from members of the Election Commission who had supervised the 2013 polls.”

The PPP leadership has said that they supported the PTI’s electoral reforms stance but would not become the part of any anti-government alliance which might overthrow the incumbent rulers.

The JI leadership also extended support to the PTI over the issue of electoral reforms but the high command of the JI expected tougher decisions from the PTI, which included resignations from the assemblies to transform the anti-rigging drive into another PNA-like movement.

The Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) had launched a drive against the Bhutto-led government for allegedly rigging the 1977 general elections, which ultimately led to the end of Bhutto regime.