ISLAMABAD - After hectic rounds of consultations with minor and major opposition parties, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Friday finally announced it will boycott July 30 presidential election, saying the party was not consulted on rescheduling of the polls.

PPP’s decision to step back was immediately supported by three of its allies – Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Awami National Party (ANP) and Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A) – who also announced staying away from the election.

“We have been left with no other option but to boycott upcoming presidential poll,” said PPP’s candidate for the race, Senator Raza Rabbani, addressing a joint press conference. He was flanked by PPPP President Makhdoom Amin Faheem and senior legislator Aitzaz Ahsan and others.

Raza said that rescheduling of polling day from Aug 6 to July 30 at the Supreme Court’s order had made it difficult for PPP and other opposition candidates to campaign in four provincial capitals and Islamabad in just two days.

He said Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was an independent body who had earlier twice rejected PML-N’s request for rescheduling the election but finally SC ordered for accepting ruling party’s plea. He said the move by the Supreme Court and the ECP may be seen a move towards “one-unit”, which was dangerous.

The PPP leader said they decided to boycott in protest over court’s unnecessary interference into the ECP terrain on the behest of the ruling clique. He said it is the election commission which is responsible for holding the polls and it is their prerogative to decide the schedule of polling. The senator said he was a presidential candidate but neither did he receive any notice from the court nor his party was heard. He went on saying that unilateral decision was made in this matter.

“We seriously participated in the election campaign and also contacted all the opposition parties but finally decided to stay away from election as we were left with no other option,” Senator Raza said. The time contraction also harmed their efforts for brining a joint candidate from opposition side, he added. Rabbani said PPP’s boycott decision was part of their struggle against the military and civilian dictatorship. He also expressed gratitude to ANP‚ PML-Q‚ BNP-A for supporting PPP’s decision.

Aitzaz Ahsan also alleged that the Supreme Court, ECP and the PML-N had decided the matter without hearing other parties. He said that the apex court dictated the election schedule to the ECP. The ruling party PML-N feared defeat so they took to adopting under-hand methods. Amin Faheem said they decided to boycott the election after consultation with other parties. Later, PPP leader Ayaz Soomro informed the Chief Election Commissioner in writing about his party’s boycott decision. After PPP’s boycott, now there are two main contenders in the race — PML-N’s Mamnoon Hussain and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed.