PTI moves ECP against ‘pre-poll rigging’ in Punjab by-polls

Former ruling party condemns ‘raid’ at its Lahore PP-168 constituency candidate Malik Nawaz Awan’s office

Our Correspondent July 13, 2022
Photo: File/AFP


The PTI on Wednesday moved the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over allegations of rigging ahead of the by-polls on 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly scheduled for July 17 and made the ruling PML-N party in the case.

The party also issued a stern warning to the authorities concerned, saying a revolution would come if free and fair by-elections were not conducted in the province.

On May 20, the election supervisor had de-seated 25 MPAs of the PTI for defying party directives and voting for Hamza Shehbaz for the post of the Punjab chief minister.

The PTI, on Wednesday, filed a petition with the ECP against “pre-poll rigging” in Punjab by-polls and submitted “detailed documentary evidence” to the election watchdog.

"We have submitted evidence with reference to PP-140 Sheikhupura as the number of voters in the constituency has increased from 2,000 to 5,572 voters," PTI leader Umar Ayub told media outside the ECP office in the federal capital earlier in the day.

“This is a form of pre-poll rigging,” he explained, adding that "it is crucial to prevent ministers from visiting [the constituencies], to exert influence and use state machinery."

“Today, we have filed the petition by exercising our right, and we have done so preemptively so that nobody would be able to say that we had no objections before [the election results],” the PTI leader maintained.

He said that the PML-N had “lost its mind” over the 20 seats in the Punjab by-polls.

Read By-poll preparations in Punjab enter final phase

“Federal and provincial ministers are resigning left, right and centre. But no matter what tactics they use, [the] PTI will succeed,” he said.

Ayub furthered that postings and transfers were being made, and development works were being announced. "These are old tactics and the imported government would not win by doing these but they are unsuccessfully trying to influence the public,” he stated.

The PTI leader alleged that Jhang DPO was also trying to exert influence, while the Rajanpur deputy commissioner was campaigning openly.

Addressing a news conference in Lahore later in the day, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry alleged that the provincial government had planned to “create chaos” during the by-polls.

He alleged that the police were acting on the orders of the provincial government and had been harassing party's candidates and workers.

Fawad claimed that the government had planned pre-poll rigging in some areas and later tried to shift the blame onto the establishment.

He cautioned the provincial government against “pre-poll rigging”, saying a revolution would come if free and fair by-elections were not conducted in the province.

Meanwhile, the PTI strongly condemned a "raid" at its Lahore PP-168 constituency candidate Malik Nawaz Awan’s office on late Tuesday night.

Read more By-elections in Punjab take on a new significance

Video footages of the incident surfaced on social media where police could be seen arresting persons at the event.

PTI Senator Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry termed the incident “police harassment” of the candidate and urged the officials “not to become personal slaves of Hamza Shehbaz”.

Senior PTI leader Dr Yasmin Rashid echoed the same concerns, as she called on the Punjab police to “stop open bullying”.

Another PTI leader Andalib Abbas expressed concerns that “police were sabotaging peaceful elections by bullying [PTI]”.

PTI senior leader Farrukh Habib alleged that the incident occurred as a result of “fears of defeat” on part of the provincial government.

“Police cannot demoralise PTI workers with its clever tactics,” he said.

Contrary to the PTI’s claims, the Lahore Police denied the incident saying, “Police did not raid any PTI candidate's office.”


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