A former additional secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Afzal Khan has claimed that the 2013 parliamentary polls were massively rigged.
“I had doubts, but now I’m convinced that there was widespread rigging in the May 2013 general elections,” Khan said in an interview to a private television channel. “The day Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan admitted that 60,000 to 70,000 votes were unverifiable in each constituency, I was convinced that the elections were rigged,” he said.
The ECP member from Punjab, Justice (retd) Riaz Kayani, has 90% role in undermining the authenticity of the polls, while former chief justices of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Tassaduq Husain Jillani were also responsible for what he called ‘stealing the mandate of people’.
“I disagree that there were 35 ‘punctures’ as claimed by [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman] Imran Khan. I believe there were hundreds of ‘punctures’. Barring Islamabad and a few other places where cameras were installed, there was widespread ballot stuffing,” Khan said.
He claimed that the rigging was well planned and orchestrated. How could Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar know that thousands of votes cannot be verified in each constituency while the ballot boxes were sealed?
All the returning officers (ROs) were appointed by Iftikhar Chaudhry. Fakhruddin G Ebrahim as the chief election commissioner was only approving the decisions taken by Riaz Kayani. “Fakhru Bhai should have spoken out or at least taken notice on record,” Afzal said. Even the ECP members representing the other three provinces were afraid of speaking out against Kayani.
The whole machinery was working in a coherent manner to fix the elections, he said. Cases challenged in election tribunals were deliberately delayed. Though the tribunals were mandated to decide the complaints within 120 days, they took more than 365 days and were still delaying verdicts, he said. “The election tribunals are compromised,” Khan said.
The ECP had asked for the appointment of ex-judges as returning officers so that they might decide the cases quickly, but we see that instead they delayed the whole process and enjoyed benefits and perks from taxpayers’ money while taking decisions on the whims of a particular group, Khan alleged.
Asked about the printing of ballots, he said these are printed under the military’s supervision. “For last many elections, the printing of ballots in Karachi and Islamabad is done in the presence of military officials, it is a rule,” he said. About ballots being printed in Lahore’s Urdu Bazaar, he said the Printing Corporation of Pakistan, Islamabad, and the Securities Printing Press, Karachi, are strictly monitored institutions, the paper and the ink they use can be verified even after a hundred years.
Khan said he doubts that there was over-casting because of on-ground experience. “A constituency shows 50% turnout and suddenly there was 100% voting or even more than registered voters, then we could be sure that there was ballot stuffing.”
He agreed with the allegations levelled by Imran Khan and said that there should be an investigation and the responsible persons should be tried and punished.
Khan said re-election or mid-term elections under the present set-up would be useless. The ECP needs to be reconstituted, he said. There should be biometric verification and locally developed electronic voting system.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2014.