SUKKUR: Political parties have blamed Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) parliamentarians of pre-poll rigging and influencing the returning officers to reject the nomination papers of independent candidates and of candidates of other parties, during a multi-party conference in Sukkur on Monday.
Leaders and workers of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F), Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), Pakistan Muslim League - Functional (PML-F), Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N), Jamat-e-Islami, Sunni Tehreek and others attended the conference.
The participants expressed their lack of confidence in the returning officers. They claimed that the officers are working according to the wishes of the ruling PPP and rejecting the nomination papers of other candidates without any justification.
The participants of the multi-party conference filed an application to the Sukkur district returning officer (DRO), demanding inquiry into the rejection of the nomination forms. The parties announced to stage a sit in outside the DRO's office on September 28, if their demands were not fulfilled.
Addressing the conference, Sukkur JUP general secretary Musharraf Mehmood Qadri condemned the discrimination and said that the attitude of the returning officers showed that they were under the pressure of the PPP leaders. He demanded the election commission to appoint returning officers from the judiciary to hold the local government elections in a free and fair manner.
Sukkur PML-F ladies wing president Safia Baloch called the returning officers biased and said that the parties didn't trust them anymore. She blamed the director of the North Sindh Urban Services Corporation, Arsalan Shaikh , of stopping the returning officers from issuing the no-dues certificates to candidates of other parties except for the PPP. He is the son of Senator Islamuddin Shaikh and is contesting in the elections for Sukkur Municipal Corporation mayor.
Sukkur Development Alliance chairperson Jawed Memon also accused the returning officers of working under PPP leaders' influence and added that so far, not a single nomination paper filed by a PPP candidate was rejected. This shows that PPP wants to win the elections through rigging, Memon said.
The Sukkur regional election commissioner, Abid Hussain, was not available for comments, however the senior assistant Salamat Ali refuted the allegations of the multi-party leaders while talking to The Express Tribune.
Ali said that every legal formality was fulfilled for accepting or rejecting the nomination papers and insisted that some nomination papers of the PPP candidates were also rejected. He admitted that so far, many complaints regarding the biased attitude of the returning officers were received in the office and claimed that they were looking into it.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2015.
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