Fazl says ready for elections ‘even if polls to be held tomorrow’

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman speaks in Geo News programme Capital Talk on September 12, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman speaks in Geo News programme Capital Talk on September 12, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews
  • JUI-F chief insists his party did not accept 2018 elections.
  • Says some of PMD’s political mistakes favoured PTI govt.
  • Claims JUI-F workers are not safe after the Bajaur blast.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that his party is ready for the general elections even if the polls are held the next day.

His statement came during an interview with Geo News programme “Capital Talk” on Tuesday, as days earlier Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari took a subtle jibe at his party’s former “allies”, saying they “are running away” from the elections.

“Conduct the elections tomorrow… we are ready for the polls even for tomorrow,” Fazl said, adding that his party kept calling for new elections during the three-and-a-half years of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government.

The JUI-F leader — who was also the president of the 13-party coalition,  the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — said that his party did not accept the results of the 2018 elections and held an all-parties conference (APC) immediately after the polls.

“The APC agreed that the [2018] election results will not be accepted,” he said, adding that it meant that all political parties unanimously demanded new elections.

Fazl said that his party was not in favour of taking the oaths on the seats it won in the 2018 elections but backed off on this stance as its allies, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the PPP were forming governments in Punjab and Sindh, respectively.

The former PDM chief went on to say that the JUI-F believed that the allies could have forced new elections by resigning from the assemblies as half of the national and provincial assemblies would have been vacated had their members resigned “but the establishment also didn’t want the immediate polls at that time”.

He also said that they had objections that when the PDM was being formed, the option of resignation was removed from the notification.

“We fought to get the option back,” he added.

‘ECP to decide time of polls’

Discussing the matter of delay in the election, Fazl said that the PPP is the second biggest force to favour the polls under the new delimitation.

It may be noted that Bilawal, the former foreign minister, has repeatedly voiced concerns on the PPP’s behalf recently regarding the delay in elections.

The JUI-F chief said that it is the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide when it wants to hold the polls as it has the matters of census and delimitation.

“The president [of Pakistan] doesn’t have the right to give a date for the election, it would be unconstitutional,” he said while suggesting Arif Alvi not to involved in policy matters as he nears the end of term as the president.

Fazl puts weight behind PML-N-led govt

Moving on to the performance in delivering as a government, Fazl put the weight behind the PML-N, saying that the GDP growth under the Shehbaz Sharif-led rule swelled to 6% while “the PTI pushed it to zero”.

“The PTI government pushed the country to the brink of default but we [PDM] lessened the burden of debts in 16 months and saved the country from default,” he added.

Fazl further said that some of the PMD’s political mistakes favoured the government of Imran Khan-led PTI.

“When the PTI’s graph was down, we suggested going towards elections but we came towards parliament,” he said, adding that after that move the coalition government couldn’t conduct elections before completing the term.

The JUI-F Ameer said that he had warned that they would not be able to lift the country if they opted to complete the government’s constitutional term.

‘Our workers not safe after Bajaur blast’

Maulana Fazl said that his party workers are not safe as they are still getting threats after the suicide attack at the party’s convention in Bajaur district’s Khar on July 30, which killed at least 40 people on the spot and injured more than 100 others.

He went on to say that his party lost 19 workers to terrorist attacks during the last two years.

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