LAHORE/Karachi - A number of prominent political parties led by PML-N cried foul, alleging irregularities and rigging in Wednesday’s national polls. However, the election commission denied the allegations.
The former ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz rejected outright the partial, unofficial results – which showed its arch-rival Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf winning the election.
At least six other parties too raised questions on the transparency of electoral process, though they did not reject outright the election results.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pak-Sarzameen Party (PSP), Muttahida Majlas-i-Amal (MMA) and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) alleged that their polling agents were either ousted of the polling stations at the time of counting or denied certified results by the polling staff.
They also questioned the long inordinate delay in the official announcement of the results by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Interestingly, the PTI’s Karachi chapter also complained that they too were not given Form 45 – the document containing the final vote tally at each polling station.
The commission denied all the allegations. ECP Secretary Babar Yaqub said that all polling agents had been providing Form-45 to polling agents but some of the polling agents whose parties “were not performing well” were themselves leaving the stations without taking the forms.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has said that worst kind of rigging has been committed in the elections and the PML-N outright rejects the results.
Addressing a midnight media conference, he announced that they would devise their future strategy in consultation with the other political parties which too have “rejected” the results.
He said the way the elections were conducted is not only a big blow to the democratic system but has also taken the country back by 30 years. He added that manipulation of polls is against the prosperity of the country.
Shehbaz alleged that neither the people were allowed to exercise their right to vote nor were the polling agents of the party given Form-45.
He said no official result was announced for Lahore constituencies while complaints of unavailability of Form-45 were received by the party from Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan and other areas.
Polling agents of Khawaja Asif and Tehmina Daultana were not given Form 45, he said adding that highly ghastly situation cropped up after the election time was over as complaints from the PML-N polling agents begun to pour in to the Secretariat from all over the country about unavailability of Form 45.
He said, instead of giving Form 45, the party polling agents were given results on plain paper that too only of the PML-N candidates.
“It is sheer insult of the public mandate that cannot be tolerated at any cost,” Shehbaz Sharif said, adding it is an oppression that cannot be allowed. He said the party will adopt every channel – political, legal and any other – against this injustice and disrespect to the public mandate. He said insult to the public mandate is bound to check the way of the country’s progress and prosperity.
Shehbaz said the way the results have been manipulated is not a petty matter, but the question of the future of Pakistan.
He told the media that it is not only the PML-N, four to five other parties too have discarded the results on the same ground. The PML-N will reach out to those parties soon and formulate a common line of action against this rigging. He said had the elections been free and fair, the PML-N would have accepted the mandate, but what happened the last day is intolerable.
PML-N Central Media Committee Chairman Mushahid Hussain Syed said it is failure of the caretaker government and the ECP that election results have been manipulated. “This is the dirtiest election in the history of Pakistan,” he said, while subscribing to the rejection decision of his party leader.
Flanked by Senator Mussaddiq Malik, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurengzeb told the media at around 10pm that behind the door rigging was going on to steal their party mandate. She called upon the ECP to look into the matter.
“Polling agents had not been given Form 45. The results of the elections of Rana Sanaullah Khan and others were also being manipulated. The party is keeping patience as it has never gone for politics of anarchy and clash. The party wanted probe into the matter,” Marriyum maintained.
Musaddiq Malik told the media about withholding election results in DGK and said Form 45 in the constituencies of Pervez Malik, Ayaz Sadiq and his party candidates in Islamabad, Murree and other places had also not been given. He warned of ‘disastrous consequences’ if the PML-N mandate is stolen. Malik said the PML-N never talked of anarchy and chaos, but the party and its workers would not accept the manipulated results.
Bilawal Bhutto’s spokesman Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said the PPP polling agents are not being given results in Lyari. Alleging that the ECP was silent over the complaints, the PPP leader called upon the commission to abide by its constitutional obligation.
PPP senators Raza Rabbani and Taj Haider told the media that their party was not given results. He warned that such a step could result in “dangerous consequences”.
“Some forces are trying to spread altercation by making the elections controversial. If engineered politics is imposed, there would be grave consequences on the country,” Rabbani said.
Opposition leader in Senate Sherry Rehman said pre-poll rigging had already been made but intervention in the polling was not hidden as well.
She alleged that apart from one specific party, all parties are being pushed towards the wall. The PPP leaders said they received 250 complaints which were forwarded to the ECP.
MMA spokesman Awais Noorani complained the same. Naeemur Rehman and Mubashar Hasan complained that in Karachi that the MMA polling agents were not being given Form 45. Rejecting election results, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman threatened to call an all-party conference on the issue.
MMA Secretary General Liaquat Baloch said that the electoral process created doubts on transparency of the polls. Baloch who is also Secretary General of Jamaat-i-Islami said that it seemed difficult that the people of Pakistan would accept the election results. The MMA leader said that the ECP failed to fulfill its responsibilities to conduct free and transparent election.
TLP Spokesman Pir Ijaz Ashrafi also claimed that the polling agents of his party were not provided form 45. He alleged that elections were badly rigged and results were changed against the TLP winner candidates particularly in Karachi and some other big cities. He said the TLP leadership was closely monitoring the situation and announce its next strategy very soon. He said that the ECP will be responsible of the entire situation after polls. The TLP urged its supporters to be ready for a protest against alleged rigging in polls.
MQM-P announced holding sit-ins across Karachi if they are not provided the certified results forms. Addressing an emergent press conference in the Sindh capital, Faisal Subzwari alleged that the ECP staff were not giving certified results.
He said: “Our polling agents are refused to hand over certified results. They were ousted of many stations without reason. The ECP ousted our agents of polling stations in Salahuddin Ayubi School of NA-249, and several other points of NA-243. “Irregularities were started right from the beginning as the polling could not be started on time in various areas because of unavailability of polling material.”
Syed Ali Raza Abidi who was well behind Imran Khan in NA 243 as per unofficial result said that he was not provided even a single copy of Form 45 out of 216 polling stations of the constituency. “This is being done to make Imran victorious but this will question his credibility too,” he added.
Pak-Sarzameen Party leader Raza Haroon told the media that Form 45 was to be issued to them after completion of counting process, but they were denied their right.
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqub claimed that results had been given to the agents and if somebody faced any problem, he should contact the commission.
PML-N leads rigging charge
SAJID ZIA & Muhammad Sabih