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‘Rigged’ elections spark protests in KP, Fata

May 14, 2013

PESHAWAR, May 13: Supporters of some losing candidates on Monday organised demonstrations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Area against the alleged massive rigging in different national and provincial assembly constituencies.Also in the day, some losing candidates from different areas of the province held news conferences and rejected elections.

In Mingora, ANP’s Dr Haider Ali and JUI-F’s Ali Shah, candidates for PK-86, Swat-VII, held separate news conferences and alleged that elections in the constituency were rigged and demanded of the Election Commission of Pakistan to order re-election.

Dr Haider Ali alleged that most of the polling staff supported candidate of PML-Nawaz Qaimoos Khan, who consequently won the seat.

He alleged that some presiding officers intentionally delayed the polling process on polling stations, where ANP had a clear majority.

“Despite the fact that ECP extended polling time for one hour, majority of the people waiting in queues to cast vote were not allowed to do so and the polling was closed early to favour the rival candidate,” he alleged.

Dr Haider said some political parties had reached an agreement to ban women from voting.

“This is against the law and a violation of human rights,” he said.

JUI-F candidate Ali Shah also rejected the results of PK-86, Swat-VII, and said until late night, he was leading by 800 to 900 votes.

He said the PML-N candidate was declared winner though he was actually not in the race, so results were not acceptable to him and his party.

In Mansehra, PTI workers took to streets to protest the alleged massive rigging in NA-21 constituency and demanded re-election.

“Mohammad Safdar, son-in-law of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, through polling staff cast a large number of fake votes in the constituency and if the data is verified by National Database and Registration Authority, everything will be crystal clear,” alleged PTI candidate for NA-21 Nawabzada Salahuddin Saeed while speaking to protesters.

Angry protesters, who had reached here from Oghi in dozens of vehicles shouting slogans against the alleged election rigging, also staged a sit-in in front of the local press club.

The protesters blocked Kachari Road for around an hour and demanded repelling in their constituency.

PTI candidate Nawabzada Salahuddin Saeed said he had taken part seven times in elections from NA-21 during the last three decades and had been elected MNA five times but had never witnessed such election rigging and irregularities.

He said Mohammad Safdar first violated the Election Commission’s code of conduct while using the Punjab government’s squad of vehicles and policemen and then ‘bought’ the polling staff.

“The polling staff were paid by Mr Safdar for fake votes they polled in support of him and I have solid evidence of it and would go to the election tribunal if the chief election commissioner doesn’t take notice of the rigged elections,” he said.

The PTI candidate said it was beyond his comprehension that more than 150,000 votes could be polled in such remote and backward constituency and previous records could also witness it.

“It is not Karachi and Lahore where voter turnout can be up to 60 per cent. It is a highly remote and backward area, where such a big turnout is impossible as no transport service is available in majority of the constituency,” he said.

Mr Saeed said women voters were stopped from polling votes in the majority of his constituency.

He said he would go to the election tribunal and also to the Supreme Court to claim his right if a need arose.

“If a lawmaker enters into parliament through fake votes who he can play an effective role in eradicating the corruption and other evils in the society,” Mr Saeed told journalists.

In Ghalanai of Mohmand Agency, workers of JI, PML-N and PTI, and supporters of some independent candidates on Monday staged separate demonstrations against the alleged rigging in NA-36 constituency.

Led by the parties’ leaders and losing candidates of the above said constituency they assembled here in front of the political agent office in the agency headquarters and staged protest demonstrations combined. They chanted slogans against those involved in the poll rigging.Addressing angry protesters, JI candidate Saeed Khan, Zar Khan Safi of PML-N and others announced that they would not be accepting results, so re-election should be announced.

Independent candidate Nisar Momand along with his supporters staged protest demonstration against the alleged poll rigging, in front of Assistant Returning Officer’s office in Ekkaghound and blocked the main Peshawar-Bajaur Road for four hours.Also, 20 losing candidates from the constituency held a meeting and formed a committee to take up the matter with ECP.

In Swabi, PTI workers on Monday organised a demonstration and demanded an immediate recounting of votes in PK-36, Swabi-VI constituency.

The official results showed that Shiraz Khan of PML-N had won the election from PK-36 against Rangaiz Khan of PTI by 189 votes. Mr Shiraz received 12,923 votes and Mr Rangaiz 12,734.

“This is our democratic right to demand re-election, so it should be immediately ordered,” Mr Rangaiz.

In Khar of Bajaur Agency, workers of various political parties and candidates held a protest demonstration to protest against the alleged rigging in the local National Assembly constituency.

In Mardan, PTI leaders and activists held protest demonstration at Adil Chowk near the Mardan kutcheri against the alleged rigging by ANP and changing of results of NA-9 Mardan-I constituency by the returning officer concerned.