Pak polls: PPP accepts defeat but decries militants` shadow over polls

The Pakistan People`s Party today accepted defeat in the landmark general elections but said it had "serious reservations" about the fairness of the polls as it had been denied a level playing field by militant groups.

Islamabad: The Pakistan People`s Party today accepted defeat in the landmark general elections but said it had "serious reservations" about the fairness of the polls as it had been denied a level playing field by militant groups and "gerrymandering" in some constituencies.

"The Pakistan People`s Party Parliamentarians accepts the verdict of the people as expressed by them through the May 11 vote," senior leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim said in a brief statement.

Fahim said the denial of a level playing field to the PPP and other democratic parties by militants and "gerrymandering in a number of constituencies" had eroded the "credibility of fair and free elections".

Gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts.

The PPP "deplores that its protests on this count were heeded neither by the Election Commission of Pakistan nor by the caretaker government," he said.

The Election Commission should look into the PPP`s complaints and tackle them in accordance with the law, he added.

"Though the party has serious reservations about the fairness of the polls, it has accepted the results in the larger interest of political stability, democracy and the welfare of the people of Pakistan," Fahim said.

"Having accepted the verdict of the people, the Pakistan People`s Party Parliamentarians will continue to play a robust role in and out of parliament to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions in the country," he said.

The PPP is registered with the Election Commission as the Pakistan People`s Party Parliamentarians and Fahim is the president of the entity.

However, the actual head of the party is Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the 24-year-old son of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.

According to trends, the PML-N led by former premier Nawaz Sharif is set to bag in excess of 125 of the 272 parliamentary seats for which polls were held on May 11. The PPP, which led the outgoing coalition government, is expected to win a little over 30 seats.

The PPP was wiped out in Punjab, the country`s most populous province, where it bagged only one parliamentary seat.

In a separate message, President Asif Ali Zardari felicitated the country on the holding of elections to mark the first democratic transition in its history.

"The people of Pakistan have spoken through the ballot," he said. Zardari expressed the hope that the next phase of the democratic transition "the smooth transfer of power in accordance with the will of the people as expressed by them through the vote," will be completed soon in accordance with the Constitution.
The holding of polls in accordance with constitutional provisions was a triumph of the people, democracy and the system put in place for democratic transition, he said.
Zardari felicitated all national institutions and individuals who "worked hard to make possible the holding of this gigantic exercise so vital for the strengthening of democracy".

PTI