Pakistan News

Parties claim elections were rigged in favour of PML-N

Parties claim elections were rigged in favour of PML-N

ISLAMABAD: PTI has alleged that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has once again failed to conduct free and transparent elections.

PTI Information Secretary Naeemul Haq claimed that the party had received a number of complaints regarding the elections, and alleged that the ECP failed to conduct free elections.

“Ballot papers were not given to PTI supporters in Golra, because PML-N MNA Anjum Aqeel Khan’s sister was the chief polling agent,” he claimed.

Mr Haq also alleged that Golra police threatened PTI supporters.

However, the first party among those contesting the local government elections in Pakistan to claim the elections were rigged was Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).

Even before official timings to cast votes had closed, PAT district president Advocate Ibrar Raza claimed that the federal capital on Monday witnessed rigging. He accused the ruling party of using government machinery, including the influence of patwaris, to manipulate the polls.

Separately, Kishwar Malik, a National Party (NP) polling agent who was present at a station in Union Council (UC) 39 Mera Badi, told Dawn that a number of voters, particularly women, were uneducated, and that the presiding officer and staff used this to rig votes in favour of PML-N candidates.

“There were six ballot papers for different seats, but polling staff was giving only two ballot papers to female voters and was stamping four important ballot papers themselves,” she said.

NP leader Ayub Malik said that written applications have been filed with ECP and Ramna police station against the alleged rigging.

ECP on Monday also rejected PTI’s demand seeking an extension in polling time for the local government elections in Islamabad.

The move was disclosed by ECP Additional Secretary Fida Mohammad. He said the polling time for local government polls in the capital was more than what was set for similar electoral exercises in Punjab and Sindh, and was sufficient.

He said all the presiding officers had been directed to ensure that those voters present inside the polling station at the conclusion time would be allowed to vote no matter how much time they may take.

Mr Mohammad said of the 640 polling stations set up for local government polls in Islamabad, presiding officers at 200 stations had been provided smart phones to photograph the election result, that they will prepare and sign, and electronically transmit it to the ECP.

He said the initiative would address complaints of changes made to the results by returning officers.

If the experiment is successful, Mr Mohammad said it would be replicated during the 2018 general elections.

He said the system would also record the location of the presiding officer when the result from their particular station is forwarded.

The software was developed by the ECP’s IT wing. Mr Mohammad said voters could also check their polling stations via SMS and could use Google maps to look up the location and route to their polling stations.

He said polling remained largely peaceful, barring some minor complaints. He said the presiding and returning officers concerned were contacted immediately in order to address complaints, and added that complaints of polling staff reaching polling stations late were also received.

He said that polling staff at almost all stations arrived 15 minutes before polling began, at 7am.

When asked about the violation of the code of conduct by the PTI chairman Imran Khan, Mr Mohammad said the code of conduct was not just the ECP’s responsibility.

“It is the property of the political parties and the electorates as well, and should be respected by all,” he said.

He added that the code of conduct was not a criminal law, and that the ECP would act on the violation within its own limitations.

The statement reflected ECP’s helplessness, since the body has repeatedly called for the code of conduct to be made a part of the electoral law.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2015

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