Islamabad Politics Report/Moazzam Raza Tabassam: Central leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party has described the latest spate of media trial against former President Asif Ali Zardari has his sister PPP Women Wing President Faryal Talpur as a clear case of sheer political victimization and a well-calculated pre-poll rigging move.
Addressing a press conference at Bilawal House, the PPP leaders Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Farhatullah Babar, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman, Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Qamaruz Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed and Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and others said that that we find the timing of this case particularly suspicious. The case that has been dredged up against President Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur was instituted three years ago. It has been dragged out of cold storage two weeks before an election as a clear case of political victimisation and can be classified as pre-poll rigging.
The PPP leaders pointed out that this investigation, its timing and the media trial that has begun at this point in the campaign smacks of clear intent to damage the party leadership and influence our voters. “The fact that the investigation is headed up by Bashir Memon, DG FIA, whose brother is contesting the election against the PPP in Matiari, Sindh, and whom PPP’s Election Cell has been asking to be removed for his politically partisan behaviour is all the more malicious. The Additional DG FIA heading up this particular investigation is even more blatantly controversial: he is Najaf Mirza who has been active against President Zardari since he facilitated his torture in jail in 1999,” they added.
There is an active FIR against Najaf Mirza as well, therefore it is shocking that he has been made in charge of the investigation.
Senior PPP leaders further said that the scale of disinformation is also high. The amounts mentioned allege that the Zardari Group is somehow involved in white collar crimes and money laundering of Rs 35 billion and more. All of the above is factually wrong, and deliberately misleading. The one company in question has not done anything illegal or used at any point for any criminal activity. Even the amount it allegedly transacted business is one and a half crore rupees, which as a loan was on record returned. None of this amounts to money-laundering or criminal transaction. Both are allegations which shall be contested in court.
The PPP leaders said that they were deeply saddened at the fact that President Zardari and Ms Faryal Talpur have been put on the ECL, given that others, like Nawaz Sharif and Mariyam, have over months of investigation, trial etc never been put on ECL until after the NAB court sentenced them now and the double standard of Justice is quite clear.
“The PPP and President Zardari have always faced down cases and witch hunts without ever running away. This is all part of what looks like an elaborate conspiracy to rig the polls and strip PPP of a level playing field. From KP to Punjab and Sindh, all across the country our candidates and supporters are being pressed to switch loyalties and change their political tickets.
“In Sindh the micromanagement of the election is evident at all levels of political tiers, the GDA and it’s allies are being generously facilitated. In Sindh our party has officially notified us of Col Abid Shah in Sukkur, and Major Shehzad in Badin as being particularly active against PPP members. In KP for example, we have been told of a Col Mugheez who is overly active in pressuring our party members and supporters to switch to the Kings party,” the PPP leaders pointed out.
“In Punjab the same process is magnified across the province. There’s a sense that there’s a new IJI being made for 2018, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s campaign has also encountered alarming road blocks and media blackouts all over the country. First in Lyari, then on way to Uch Sharif, then later in Multan. Jalsa permissions are also held up or plainly denied in many parts of KP while others are being allowed.
The same uneven playing field is on display wherever we campaign, as our posters and display messages are being systematically removed while others carry on with their voting symbol and candidates faces all over the constituencies.
PPP leaders further said that the growing media gags and press censorship signals the onset of a dark period of political engineering, which is busy using state resources to stack the deck against progressive political parties with an ideological base and vote bank. While candidates from our parties are disqualified on flimsy grounds, it is very troubling that about 150 candidates from violent extremist organisations, including some on the 4th Schedule for terrorism, have been magically cleared to contest the forthcoming election,” they added.