PESHAWAR: Some independent candidates who had lost and an opposition party have complained that the government has allegedly rigged elections in the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata).
In a news conference on Monday, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Mir Zajan Wazir, Maulana Saleh Wazir, Maulana Abdul Malik Wazir, Maulana Rafiuddin Wazir and Maulana Abdur Rehman Wazir claimed that this was another ‘selection’ not an election. They accused that when it came time to count the votes, their polling agents were allegedly pushed out of the polling stations and rigging was done.
They asked why were the elections held if the winning candidates were already decided.
Similarly, five unsuccessful independents from PK-109 Kurram-II staged a protest outside the Parachinar Press Club. They alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government had resorted to cunning techniques to ensure victory for their candidate.
They claimed at some polling stations, votes of those who had died and people living abroad were also cast while some polling stations showed 98 per cent turnout when the average turnout for the constituency was 40.1 per cent.
‘Rigging’ also echoed in South Waziristan where independent candidate Mohammad Arif Wazir from PK-114 demanded a recount in at least three polling stations where 90 per cent of votes were cast while the overall turnout in the constituency was 22.65 per cent, there which was impossible.
He demanded that footage recorded by the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in these polling stations should be released to the public. Arif added that he had lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and demanded that an inquiry into the related polling stations should begin immediately.
The independent candidate had lost Saturday’s election, securing 10,272 votes to the 11,114 votes secured by PTI’s Naseerullah Khan.
Meanwhile, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan stated on Monday that peaceful, transparent, free and fair election in the newly merged districts had dispelled negative propagandas.
Addressing a news conference at the CM House in Peshawar, Mahmood said that the elections had proved that people of the newly-merged tribal districts fully support the merger process and that they are a peaceful and democratic people.
Noting that with the elections, the merger process was now complete, the next important phase was local government elections which will devolve powers to the grass-root level.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2019.