Pakistan: Imran Khan's party alleges election rigging by intelligence agencies in by-polls, calls for probe

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) announced a series of protests from Friday


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Gohar Ali Khan. Photo: AFP file
Gohar Ali Khan. Photo: AFP file

Published: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 9:11 PM

A day after the results of Pakistan by-elections were declared, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders have raised serious allegations, asserting the involvement of intelligence and security agencies in orchestrating election rigging, Dawn reported.

Describing April 21 as a "black day" in the annals of Pakistan's history, the PTI has called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to suspend the declaration of results and has announced a series of protests from Friday.

"[The] day of election is considered an accountability day, and people cast their votes with great zeal. However, on April 21, open and blatant violations of law were observed. The magnitude of the rigging and violation of law has never been observed in the history of Pakistan. Gates of polling stations were closed, and at some polling stations, more votes were polled than the total registered votes," PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Khan told a press conference, as reported by Dawn.

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Accompanied by prominent party figures including Omar Ayub, the Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Raoof Hasan, Central Information Secretary, and Sahibzada Hamid Raza, Chief of Sunni Ittehad Council, Khan recounted instances of malpractice.

"At one polling station, the candidate's father informed us that votes were already cast even though polling time had not yet begun. We have reported all complaints to the ECP, but the election watchdog took no action. We demand that the ECP conduct an inquiry and also share that how it will ensure that such rigging will not be repeated next time," he said.

Comprehensive inquiry

Questioning the efficacy of the ECP, Khan called for a comprehensive inquiry into the reported irregularities. He criticized the exclusion of returning officers (ROs) and district returning officers from the judiciary, casting doubt on the ECP's credibility.

"We went to another polling station but found out that our polling agents were forced to leave," Barrister Gohar said.

Omar Ayub echoed Khan's sentiments, alleging pre-poll rigging facilitated by the suspension of internet services. He accused Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz of undermining transparency in the electoral process.

Ayub presented a letter allegedly penned by the RO of NA-8 Bajaur, accusing an intelligence official of assaulting election staff. However, the authenticity of the letter was subsequently contested by the Bajaur administration.

"Punjab police picked up and badly beat journalists. We also heard reports of agency personnel wearing Punjab police uniforms. Police also misbehaved with us and claimed they were helpless. We will take legal action against the DIG Gujrat, SP Investigation, DSP and SHOs... who also assaulted journalists," he said, according to Dawn.

Ayub also said that Shehbaz Sharif got lesser votes during the general elections than the candidate contesting on the PML-N ticket in by-election.

''This is beyond comprehension. "We will start protests, along with other parties, next Friday across the country. Then we will hold another protest in Faisalabad, followed by organising a public meeting in Karachi on May 5, and then a series of public meetings will be held across the country," he said.

In response to these allegations, the PTI announced plans for nationwide protests, starting with demonstrations scheduled for the forthcoming Friday. Ayub outlined a series of planned actions, including protests in Faisalabad and Karachi, followed by a succession of public meetings across the country. He maintained that intelligence agencies obstructed voters from accessing polling stations, further exacerbating concerns regarding electoral integrity, Dawn reported.


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