The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz alleged widespread rigging across Sindh and parts of the Punjab on Saturday.
PTI’s liaison cell head Asad Umar said over 800 complaints had been registered with the election commission, the majority of which were about rigging by rival parties.
Sheikh Muhammed Imran, a volunteer at the liaison cell, said, there had been “massive rigging”. The majority of the complaints came from Karachi but there were also complaints from the Punjab, later in the day.
“The ECP assured us that they would take immediate action against this, but we are still waiting,” said Imran, “I expect the number of complaints will exceed 2,000 by the end of the day.”
Yasir Sheikh, head of the PTI analytics and data analysis team, has launched a website where voters can report incidents of rigging or code violations during the electoral process. The website, Jaag Pakistan, relies on crowd-sourcing and citizen journalism. People can report incidents via text messages, email and twitter.
“We’re expecting the election results to be neck to neck. Our goal is to use the platform to close the gaps in the system so no vote falls through,” Sheikh said. The team included 23 people who collected evidence of rigging and code violations, he said. Each report was then categorised according to verified and unverified categories, said Sheikh. “The ECP has the regulations and authority to enforce the code of conduct, but lacks the capacity to oversee the implementation of the rules in many areas,” he added. The reports are sent to the ECP as complaints, which, he said, will be helpful in controlling local shenanigans.
Samad Khurram, campaign manager for Ahsan Iqbal in Narowal, said his party was forwarding all rigging complaints to the election commission. He said the party had received the most reports from Sindh.
He said there had been several incidents of firing the night Hanif Abbasi was attacked in Rawalpindi and they had also received reports of some polling stations being attacked by rival parties in Narowal.
PML-N spokesman Senator Pervez Rasheed said the party was planning on compiling a list of complaints that have been filed with the election commission. He said the PML-N’s policy was to refer each issue to the election commission for review.
“I think there were enough cameras and devices to ensure that rigging was curbed,” said Rasheed.
Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) CEO Mudassir Rizvi said, “Rigging can be classified as that which remains within the existing framework, working through loopholes, and that which takes place outside the electoral framework.”
In the past, various tactics had been deployed to disrupt elections. The balance of power in an area also determines whether such activities will be carried out, he said. “We have been sending reports, and recommended corrective measures, but there is a tendency to kill the messenger,” said Rizvi.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2013.