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Pakistan Parties Hold Protests Against Alleged Poll Manipulation

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Several major political parties in Pakistan are holding protests against what they say is the manipulation of last month’s national election, allegedly by the powerful military.

The parties of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari and other groups had called for a march on the Election Commission of Pakistan in the capital Islamabad.

Hundreds of activists led by key leaders of these groups have reached the front of the electoral body office and the protest is gathering stream, police official Raja Nadir said on Wednesday.

The party of the former sports star Imran Khan emerged the largest group in the July 25 elections, but the vote was marred by violence and allegations of rigging by the army.

Khan’s party is now going to form a government with allies, the group’s spokesman Naeemul Haq said.

It was widely believed that Pakistan’s army, which has ruled the country for almost half of its history, was manoeuvring behind the scenes to ensure victory for Khan.

Khan’s victorious Pakistan Justice Movement (PTI) was preceded in government by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of Sharif, a three-time ex-premier who advocated civilian as opposed to military supremacy.

“We are on the streets to demonstrate that the elections were not fair,” said Raja Zafarul Haq, a spokesman for Sharif’s party.

Protests are also being held in other major cities on behalf of an Islamic alliance whose major leaders lost the elections.

All the parties have, however, decided to take up their seats in parliament to constitute a formidable opposition group.



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