Karachi, Feb 13 (PTI) A complete shutter down strike was observed in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan province on Tuesday to protest against alleged rigging in the recent general elections.
Four political parties, including the Balochistan National Party (Mengal), National Party (NP), Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), and Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), have been jointly holding protests since Saturday in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan province against the outcome of the February 8 polls.
Independent candidates, mostly backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, won 101 seats in the 266-member National Assembly, followed by former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) with 75 seats, and former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with 54 seats.
For a fourth successive day, the workers of the four parties have blocked the highways linking the province with the rest of the country.
On Tuesday, the blockades on the highways continued to disrupt traffic while a complete shutter down strike was observed in the capital city.
Mir Kabeer Muhammad Shahi, the central leader of the National Party, said the protests would continue until the Election Commission of Pakistan heard the cases of those “deserving candidates” of the four parties who were robbed of their wins through “rigging” by returning officers.
“There has been massive rigging in many constituencies of the province and we don't accept the results,” he told the media. The four parties also held a demonstration outside the deputy commissioner's office in Quetta and demanded justice.
Haji Atta Muhammad Bangulzai, another leader of the NP, claimed his “victory was turned into defeat” by the returning officer.
The protesters have also blocked the main Linscomb Road in Quetta's high-security zone, suspending traffic in the city, and have also set up a protest camp outside the provincial ECP headquarters.
A Pakistani court on Tuesday dismissed more than 30 petitions filed by Khan's party-backed independent candidates who challenged the "sham victory" of top PML-N leaders, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
To form a government, a party must win 133 seats out of 265 contested seats in the National Assembly.
In Balochistan, 23,02,522 votes were cast for 16 seats of the National Assembly. The voting turnout was 42.9 per cent. There were 53,70,804 registered votes.
In the Balochistan Provincial Assembly, PPP won 11 seats, PML-N won nine, Jui-F won eight, and independents won five, while many seats were won by the smaller parties.
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