Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Friday announced plans to boycott Geo for its alleged role in rigging as he demanded a probe into the scandal of foreign funding to certain media outlets.
“No PTI representative will appear on Geo or subscribe to Geo/Jang newspapers till such time as Geo apologises for its role in the rigging of the general elections,” he told a press conference at the PTI secretariat.
“The government should form an independent commission to investigate the matter of foreign funding to media houses, including Geo, which received money from the US and other foreign sources,” he added.
The PTI chief also requested Chief Justice Tassadaq Hussain Jillani to take suo motu action against alleged rigging in last year’s general elections.
Referring to the PTI’s white paper on rigging as well as the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) report, he said the former chief justice, the returning officers (ROs), a media group and the election commissioners from Punjab and Sindh played a role in aiding and abetting rigging in the May 11, 2013 vote.
He also mentioned the infamous “35 punctures” of the then-acting Punjab chief minister, Najam Sethi, who, Imran said, was duly rewarded later.
“It has been almost a full year and neither election tribunals nor the Supreme Court (SC) have given any decisions on our petitions.
“The PTI’s demand for thumbprint verifications in four constituencies has still not been acceded to by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the petition for the same remains pending with the SC,” he said.
He said the PTI was left with no option but to come out onto the streets to protest the rigging so that it might be ensured that transparent and fair elections are held in future.
“Otherwise people – including youth and professionals – who came out in unprecedented numbers to vote in May 2013 polls will lose faith in the whole electoral process and many will assume that polls can only be won through fraud,” he said.
“This bodes ill for the future of democracy in Pakistan and the PTI will not allow this to happen,” he added.
Citing the difficulties faced by the PTI members, he said the PTI candidate Hamid Zaman in National Assembly seat NA 118 had to spend a total of Rs5.2 million – Rs 1.7 million to get the thumbprint verification by National Database Registration Authority (Nadra), Rs1.5 million at election tribunal, and Rs2 million on lawyers.
“It was found that of the 325 bags, 170 were opened and only 69 had all the requisite documents. Of the 170,000 votes cast only 81,000 had partial or complete record. Some 70 bags were not the ECP bags but had been altered. And all this was the RO’s responsibility,” he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2014.