Opposition parties have joined hands to protest against what they call irregularities in the just concluded general elections.There are loud cries of rigging, pre-poll as well as post-poll. PTI has won in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by a big margin. PTI is also in a strong position to form the governments at the Centre and in Punjab with the help of some smaller parties and the independents. Indications are that it will also be part of the coalition government likely to be led by the recently formed Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) in Balochistan.
While Imran Khan and the PTI appear to be in a dominant position,a grand opposition alliance appears to be taking shape to enter parliament and give the PTI a tough time inside the Assemblies and outside. Four parties met in Islamabad a few daysago and agreed to join hands to challenge PTI's supremacy. These parties are the PMLN, PPP, MMA and ANP. After talks with Hasil Bizenjo, the National Party (NP) has also agreed to join the new grouping. Joining the opposition bandwagonis Maulana Fazlur Rehman of JUI-F, who has expressed dismay over losing in his home constituency in D I Khan. However, his suggestion to boycott parliament and take to the streets in protest against the rigged election was not accepted by the other parties. On the contrary, they have asked the Maulana to refrain from agitational politics and i use parliament to carry on their struggle.
The alliance also intends to approach some parties in Balochistan for the purpose of countrywide protest. They also intend to hold another All Parties Conference after the one Maulana Fazlur Rehman called the other day failed to persuade the PPP and some smaller parties to attend, although Shahbaz Sharif represented the PML-N there. This second All Parties Conference is expected to issue a 'White Paper' detailing the alleged rigging before and after the voting had ended. At the same time, the opposition parties have condemned curbs on the media and freedom of expression on the social media.
The political waters are muddied and the confusion is getting worse confounded due to the babel of contrasting voices in the opposition camp. Among other things, the opposition has alleged that the election has exposed the establishment as being on the side of PTI. But to back its charge it has not yet furnished any concrete evidence. The demand for investigating the alleged 'irregularities' through a judicial commission followed the Election Commission of Pakistan's negative response to the charges of mismanagement. The ECP has also rejected the demands for the Chief Election Commissioner and the whole ECP to step down. The opposition alternatively envisages a parliamentary commission to probe the election. It is too early to say whether any of these demands will be fulfilled, since the task of collecting the needed number of votes at the Centre and in Punjab is yet to be completed.
It seems that if the opposition's demands for an independent investigation are not acceded to, they have decided to first exhaust the redressal procedure allowed by appeal to the ECP, election tribunals and then the courts. Meanwhile, they intend to make life difficult for the PTI-led governments at the Centre and in provinces. So far the opposition has shown maturity and decided to adopt lawful and democratic means to strive for their objectives. Whatever follows in the coming days, all parties should remember that the national interest is supreme and no harm should come to democracy.