Imran alleges ‘pre-planned’ rigging in Punjab by-polls

Ex-PM claims Punjab Police intervened in elections due to rulers' fears of a Feb 8-like outcome

News Desk April 23, 2024
Former prime minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan asserted on Tuesday that premeditated rigging marred the by-polls in Punjab, accusing the Punjab Police of indulging in rigging.

As opposed to the shocking victory of the opposition in the general elections, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had smooth sailing in the recently held by-elections.

Unofficial results showed that the ruling party secured majority of seats of the national and provincial assemblies contested on Sunday.

"Democracy hinges on the supremacy of law and the conduct of free and fair elections, yet what we witnessed was jungle law. The interference of the police in the Punjab by-elections is deeply concerning," he remarked during a media interaction at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail.

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Imran highlighted that by-polls were also conducted in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) is ruling, affirming that no instances of rigging transpired in the province.

"There exists no semblance of democracy in the nation presently. The rigging was a preemptive move, driven by fear of the events that unfolded on February 8. The postponement of the [general] elections from October to February was a deliberate tactic to suppress the PTI. Even our petition in the Supreme Court remained unheard, as it awaited the demise of the PTI," he elaborated.

Imran lamented that myriad tactics were deployed ahead of the general elections to besmirch the reputation of the PTI, resulting in the conversion of a majority vote into a minority.

The former prime minister deplored the lack of constitutional governance within the country, asserting that only the influential wield power.

Also read: ‘Incumbency factor’, low turnout dent PTI in by-polls

"The absence of security for overseas Pakistanis impedes investment in the nation. Transparent elections are the cornerstone of a stable government, a quintessential element of democracy," he reiterated.

Imran voiced concern that the existing governmental framework jeopardises Pakistan's future, underlining the imperative of transparent and accountable governance.

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Regarding negotiations and purported deals, Imran questioned the feasibility and necessity, asserting that the masses' will, as demonstrated on February 8, cannot be undermined.

He lamented the dwindling trust in the judiciary, highlighting the encroachment upon the fundamental right of citizens to elect their representatives.

Imran expressed dismay over the unjust treatment of his wife, emphasising her non-political stance. "My wife's involvement in politics is non-existent, yet she faces persecution and confinement. Cases have been unjustly registered against my three sisters. Unlike Maryam Nawaz and Benazir Bhutto, my wife has never been involved in politics," he clarified.

Furthermore, Imran underscored the positive diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia during his government's tenure, citing the hosting of the OIC Foreign Minister Conference in Pakistan as a testament to the amicable ties.


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