LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Punjab leaders on Wednesday accused Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif of pre-poll rigging.
Ejaz Chaudhry, the political adviser to PTI chief Imran Khan, said that the CM was allocating funds for development schemes to buy votes. The local government polls are expected to be held in the province towards the end of September.
Earlier this week, similar accusations were levelled by PTI Punjab’s Organiser Chaudhry Sarwar. He had announced that he would be writing to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) about the alleged pre-poll rigging. He had also announced that PTI leaders would meet the Election Commissioner and demand the deployment of Rangers at polling booths during the local government elections.
“The chief minister is on a pre-poll rigging spree. The provincial government is releasing billions of rupees under various development schemes. This is being done to buy votes. For Rawalpindi district alone, Rs29.496 million has been released in the name of renovation of roads,” he said.
He accused the government of using the development funds as a weapon against the PTI. “First, the Sharif brothers wasted Rs50 billion on the Metro Bus project. Now they have allocated huge funds to secure votes. Allocation of funds for these schemes just before the elections is tantamount to rigging the elections,” he said.
Dr Yasmin Rashid said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was planning to rig the local government election. She urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to look into the rigging complaints against the PML-N.
“The ECP is constitutionally responsible to conduct free, fair and transparent elections. The people have now become aware of the tactics used by some politicians. They will not allow tax money to be spent on buying votes,” he said.
Andleeb Abbas said that Minister for Zakat and Ushr Malik Nadeem Kamran had said that more than Rs3 billion had been paid to people. “To rig the upcoming election in the province, the Punjab government has approved several development schemes this week amounting to over Rs10 billion,” she said.
She demanded that the Election Commission take immediate notice of the development schemes and take steps to prevent pre-poll rigging.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.