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KARACHI: While congratulating voters of the constituency on the recognition of the power of their vote, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate in the recently-held by-election on NA-246 Imran Ismail, who finished runner-up, claimed that tens of thousands of voters had been transferred to other areas before the by-election and demanded ‘fair and transparent’ electoral rolls to ensure fair and transparent elections in future.

“Some 25,000 votes that we have been able to get in this by-election are less than what we had got from the same constituency in the 2013 general elections. We believe that more than 50,000 votes have been transferred from NA-246 to other areas through a stratagem, which merits action by the election commission,” said Mr Ismail while addressing a press conference at the party media cell in the city. He was accompanied by Karachi region PTI president Ali Zaidi.

“The electoral rolls were highly stage-managed. We demand that the election commission ensure clean, fair and transparent voter lists to make sure that elections are organised fairly and transparently,” he added.

He fired a broadside equally at the winning Muttahida Qaumi Movement and officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and claimed that the latter “failed to take notice” of whatever “happened to us during electioneering and on the day of polling”.

He said: “Why the ECP dreads the MQM? Why did they turn a deaf ear to our demand for polling staff from outside Karachi to conduct the by-election? Yesterday, it was proved that local polling staff could not sustain the MQM pressure.”

He said he accepted that the MQM had a large following in NA-246, but at the same time the two elections since 2013 proved that the PTI too carried a sizeable clout in the form of thousands of supporters in the area.

He blamed the MQM for using what he described as the ‘Mohajir card’ to woo voters and added that the PTI did not believe in politics based on ethnic or sectarian prejudices.

He congratulated the people of NA-246 that for the first time the power of their vote had been recognised because of the PTI’s rigorous and fearless campaign, which forced the MQM to visit door to door and “beg for votes”.

He, however, said 70 per cent of the voters who abstained would have changed the result altogether, if they had come out of their homes to cast their votes. He, however, said that the people should not live in fear next time and cast their votes to ensure that candidates of their choice were returned to assemblies.

PTI leader Ali Zaidi condemned the attack on the party’s election office in Karimabad on Thursday and held workers of the MQM responsible for burning the PTI flag and ransacking its camp.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015

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