By Shabbir Mir
Published: April 22, 2015
GILGIT: A senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has accused opposition parties in his constituency of using sectarianism to turn public sentiment against the PML-N before legislative elections in Gilgit-Baltistan.
“PML-N is termed a pro-Taliban and anti-Shia party, but this is absolutely incorrect,” said PML-N G-B Vice President Dr Muhammad Iqbal who is a Shia and is contesting on the PML-N ticket from G-B LA 3, a Shia-dominated constituency where the previous two elections were won by Pakistan Peoples Party Secretary General Aftab Haider. “There has been propaganda against my party in order to defame it ahead of the polls,” said Dr Iqbal at a press conference on Wednesday.
He argued if PML-N was a pro-Taliban party then it would not have launched an operation against militants in Waziristan. “Why would it lift the moratorium against the death penalty in the country?” he questioned. “That is exactly what I said recently at a public rally.”
He added most of the development projects announced recently by the PM in G-B were for the areas dominated by Shias. “This testifies to the fact that PML-N does not represent a particular sect.”
Iqbal was a member of the G-B Assembly from 1994 to 1999. He lost his seat in the elections of 1999 and left for Iran where he served as a doctor for several years.
“Our opponents unleashed a campaign against me in the elections held in 1994, but I won nonetheless,” he said, adding that this time around “some people have once more resorted to the same tactic to paint me as sympathiser of a party that allegedly favours sectarian violence”. The PML-N leader said, “However, I’m sure they will fail and we will win as people know who to vote for.”
Iqbal announced he would file a suit in the court against PPP candidate Advocate Amjad Hussain for making statements against him in a section of the press.
Electioneering in G-B has picked up pace following the visit of PM Nawaz Sharif to the region.
On Tuesday, the chief election commissioner also announced the election schedule for the polls that are to be held on June 8.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2015.