Tempers ran hot at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s second attempt to hold party elections here on Saturday. Several strong groups are contending for top party slots at the political hub of southern Punjab. The differences were expressed by throwing chairs and hurling abuse at each other.
The elections were organised at Shah Rukne Alam Colony. They had been delayed last month on February 8 following a brawl between party workers. For the second time, the main contestants, Ijaz Janjua and Khalid Warraich, picked a fight in front of voters. Janjua said Warraich was not eligible to contest elections, even vote, because he was registered as a voter in Union Council-11 and a court had issued a stay order regarding his election.
A scuffle between party workers in the previous elections in Union Councils 10 and 11 had resulted in a deadlock.
Janjua told The Express Tribune that Warraich’s supporters had manhandled him but he would not go to the police, “To save my party the embarrassment,” he said. “They cannot stomach defeat which is why Warraich’s supporters have been attacking my supporters,” said Janjua.
Warraich denied the allegations saying, “He [Janjua] is like my brother... he should not bring the party into disrepute by accusing me of ordering attacks on his supporters.” The election would not be affected by half-baked conspiracies, he added.
Supporters of the two candidates were seen chanting slogans against each other and openly bribing voters.
Some of the party workers told The Express Tribune that the candidates’ supporters had thrown chairs at each others, injuring as many as 20 people.
PTI Election Commissioner Masood Sadiq had an interesting comment on the incident. He said the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz leaders in Multan had arranged for the ruckus to sabotage their peaceful elections. “They have been sending their ‘agents’ to disrupt the process. Despite that, over 4,000 votes were cast today,” said Sadiq.
Shahbaz Malik, a party worker, said, “We do not want our party to be run by self-serving industrialists and opportunists.”
Some of the party workers were seen wrecking and torching vehicles owned by opposing candidates and their supporters. They lashed out at each other for several hours before a group turned on the ballot box. They broke the box, tore some of the ballots and threw others to the wind. Sadiq, the election commissioner, was also said to have been attacked. Officially, the elections have been postponed till further announcement.
As many as 290 candidates are running for 138 slots at the district level. As many as 4,240 union council office bearers are eligible to cast votes at the district level.
Skirmishes among rival groups weren’t confined to Multan. Elections further in Muzafargarh were postponed for the third time on Friday.
Rival candidates and their workers had accused each other of rigging the election and attacking each other’s supporters. Major candidates in the district include Nawabzada Ahmad Khan and Shahid Mustafa Qureshi.
Qureshi accused Khan of stealing ballot papers before a brawl broke out between their supporters. However they managed to settle the matter later.
Qureshi was declared district president, Khan and Sheikh Mazhar vice presidents and Kamran Khakwani general secretary of the party’s district organisation.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2013.
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@Parveen Akhtar: so what do you suggest. how should elections be held then. the way the rest did. no anouncement and everyone elected unopposed.
You guys keep on whining about the weaknesses in a democratic party but never complain about how the dictator parties (pppp/pmln) never held any elections. About time the blind try and support the people actually trying to bring real democracy to the people.
PTI and Imran are loosing their credibility. If people that can not managed a party, how they will run country, if they voted in next election. Imran khan, you have spoiled your party! Alas!!!
Mayday mayday, calling all trolls! report immediately to this 'biased' one sided 'propaganda' against the party that can god forbid do no wrong
This is a precedent. Party workers and party officials have never seen anything like this in the political history of Pakistan. It would take some time to settle in.
That goes on to show how badly we need democracy and tolerance in our country and these are the people who are supposed to be the most anti-status quo people. I think it also shows insight on the part of IK that he knew very well that unless a mechanism is setup to resolve these differences through internal elections, the internal party rifts would have consumed PTI.
Imran Khan is trying to prove himself over-confident and over-intelligent by taking such these types of steps but also knows it very well that we Pakistanis are insane,uncivilized and uncultured people regarding elections and following the rules and regulations of ECP and traffic laws......