PESHAWAR: As the clamour for probes into alleged rigging in last week’s general elections grew louder, one party has decided to take to the streets to register its protests, with the party’s leader calling for re-elections sans deployment of forces.
Angry members of the Awami National Party (ANP) gathered in the streets of various districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) on Monday, including the provincial capital of Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Swabi, Mardan, Dir Battagram, Mansehra, Mingora and in the southern areas of the province.
They chanted slogans against the alleged rigging in the elections and claimed that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had failed to ensure hold free and fair elections. The party further demanded re-elections with all parties provided an equal playing field and the absence of interference from other institutions.
The protesters stated that they will never accept the election results.
The protests were held after the party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan held a meeting of ANP’s core committee at Wali Bagh just a day after the election.
In that meeting, Wali had directed the party’s leadership in all districts of the province to record a peaceful protest against alleged rigging in the election.
Wali himself led a large gathering of party workers in Charsadda’s Farooq Azam Chowk. He was joined there by party stalwart Afrasiyab Khattak.
“The elections were extensively rigged, hence they are not acceptable to us,” alleged Wali during the protest.
“ANP voters were not allowed to freely cast their votes and our polling agents were asked to leave the room,” he added, pointing to similar complaints made by other parties.
In a veiled warning, the ANP chief said the country might see instability as those “selected” to run the country were “not the true representatives of the people”.
The ANP chief claimed that the major aim of the election engineering was to keep the Pashtun leadership out of the parliament.
He noted that major Pashtun politicians such as Mehmood Khan Achakai of the Pakhtunkhwa Mili Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) head Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Chief Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq were not allowed to reach the assembly.
“It is a misconception that this election will lead the country towards political stability,” claimed Wali, who had lost the election.
ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who too had lost in the elections, told a party protest in Nowshera that his party believes in free and fair elections.
Hussain said that they were protesting against injustice and will further follow whatever decision the leadership of the All Parties Conference (APC) takes.
The party had last week already rejected the results of the general elections, terming them ‘rigged’.
On Friday, Wali had said that everyone knew that way is being cleared for a puppet party before elections, but ANP did not know they will go to such extent and commit such an “open election rigging.”
“The polling agents were expelled from the polling stations after voting time for hours during which they filled all the ballot boxes,” Wali had alleged.
He also questioned the delay in results announcement, saying the results of far-flung areas of the country have been received, but results of polling stations in Peshawar valley could not be released even after 30 hours of the Election Day.
The ANP leader alleged that thousands of his party workers, who were wearing red caps, were not allowed to enter the polling station to cast their votes.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2018.