Pakistan opposition parties plan protest on May 11 over poll rigging

Exactly a year after the historic general elections, a majority of Pakistan`s opposition parties sans the PPP will hold a massive rally on May 11 against the Nawaz Sharif government.

PTI| Last Updated: May 04, 2014, 21:23 PM IST

Islamabad: Exactly a year after the historic general elections, a majority of Pakistan`s opposition parties sans the PPP will hold a massive rally on May 11 against the Nawaz Sharif government over issues including alleged vote rigging and corruption.

Imran Khan`s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is going to stage protest in Islamabad against the alleged elections rigging while Canada-based cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri`s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) will hold protest in Rawalpindi against the entire political and electoral system in the country.

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf`s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) will be supporting both and will be protesting over what they call was alleged "rigging" in the last year polls that catapulted the PML-N to power.

Khan`s protest is also being supported by the right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami.

The Pakistan People`s Party and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam - Fazal-ur-Rehman are not participating in the protest.

The ruling party feels that such protest will only hamper the fledgling democracy in the country.

Though both Khan`s party and PAT have claimed that their protests are not linked in any way, a number of people remain unconvinced.

The protest campaign comes amid uneasiness in civil-military relations and an ongoing battle between the powerful security establishment and Geo TV, the leading media group in Pakistan, after the assassination attempt on its leading anchor Hamid Mir.

Cricketer-turned-politician Khan has said that the May 11 protest is "for the future of Pakistan and for strengthening democracy by seeking to ensure fair, free and transparent elections".

Musharraf`s party has termed the May 11 polls as "fraudulent".

"We had boycotted the May 11 polls because we felt that the Election Commission was not free and was under the influence of the then Chief Justice (Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry). Musharraf was illegally barred from contesting polls and large scale rigging took place," APML spokesperson Aasia Ishaque told PTI.

Upping the ante, she accused the PML-N of coming to power through fraud and said, "The government has lost the legitimacy to hold on to power. They must go back to their homes now or people may decide something else on May 11."

PAT chief Qadri has also announced a protest on the same day. Unlike in 2012, Qadri will not personally take part in the protest.
Even though the opposition feels that they would be able to corner the PML-N government, many analysts here think that would not be the case.
"I think they just want to remain relevant. If they are genuine political parties, they should go and raise the issue in Parliament and not through street protests," leading analyst Lt Gen (Retd) Talat Masood told PTI.