PTI slams ECP for dropping the ball on by-polls

In Local
April 22, 2024



LAHORE:

 

By-elections held in 21 national and provincial assembly constituencies across Pakistan wrapped up amid incidents of violence, allegations of electoral irregularities, and reports of rigging casting a shadow over the proceedings.

While most polling stations managed to keep the peace, a handful of scuffles and even a fatality put a dent in an otherwise peaceful electoral affair, all against the backdrop of a suspension of cellular services.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali vehemently criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for mishandling the process, accusing it of dropping the ball when it came to ensuring transparency.

Speaking at the Khattala Polling Station in Gujrat’s PP-32 constituency, he accused the ECP of failing to ensure transparency.

Gohar described the by-elections as a sham, arguing that they failed to represent the true voice of the people. He declared that the PTI would not accept the results of the PP-32 by-elections.

Discussing inquiries regarding ex-prime minister and PTI founder Imran Khan, Gohar Ali implied that attempts to distance the former premier from the public would fail, expressing hope for his prompt release. He also highlighted that Imran received three distinct sentences within just five days, alleging undue judicial pressure.

In a social media post shared on X, PTI pointed out gross violations of the election code of conduct at PP-36 Wazirabad’s Polling Station No. 1. The party alleged that the ruling alliance in connivance with the police force was involved in mass-scale rigging.

The party claimed a new episode, similar to that of the Feb 8 election rigging, was being repeated on Sunday.

Further accusations of electoral misconduct emerged from PTI’s central Punjab acting president and general secretary, Hammad Azhar, who highlighted irregularities and rigging attempts in the by-elections. Azhar shared a video on social media showing entire booklets of fake ballot papers, raising serious questions about the electoral process’s integrity.

He urged party workers to post results from Form-45 on social media, expose irregularities and stage peaceful protests.

Violence and unrest also marred the by-elections, with reports of clashes and fatalities in various locations. In Narowal’s PP-54, a 60-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) worker, Muhammad Yousaf, died following a violent altercation between PML-N and PTI supporters.

The clash began at Kot Najo village and escalated, leading to Yousaf being struck with a stick. Despite attempts to rush him to medical care, he died before reaching the hospital.

In another incident, violence and rigging allegations disrupted the by-election process. In Lahore’s PP-149 constituency, a presiding officer at a polling station admitted to obtaining premature signatures on Form-45 from polling agents before the voting concluded, citing it as a time-saving measure.This led to a confrontation with supporters of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), resulting in a sit-in protest at the polling station. Further violence erupted at the government primary school in Ferozawala, where PML-N and SIC workers clashed, causing a suspension of polling.

The ECP later announced that additional police personnel were deployed to restore order, allowing voting to resume.
Police involvement in some incidents also raised concerns.

PTI’s former MPA Shabbir Gujjar was arrested during the by-election in Lahore’s PP-164 constituency, with authorities citing protective reasons. However, a spokesperson for Gujjar claimed that there were no known cases or conflicts involving the PTI leader, suggesting that his arrest was unjustified.

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