RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has said they have no confidence in the assistant commissioners and tehsil municipal officials appointed as returning officers for the upcoming local government elections.

The party has demanded that instead, judicial officials be appointed as returning officers to avoid a repeat of 2013’s ‘election rigging’.

The PTI holds the view that presence of officials working under Punjab government will increase chances of rigging in LG polls.

These demands were made after a meeting between PTI district organisers on Wednesday. Ghulam Sarwar Khan presided over the meeting, which was attended by all tehsil organisers.

The meeting decided that the courts would be contacted against the appointment of returning officers and sought Imran Khan’s permission to start protests against ‘pre-poll rigging’ across the province.

Former general secretary of PTI Punjab North Zahid Kazmi told Dawn: “The local administration officials are already pleasing the Punjab government. They are ignoring the elected PTI MPAs. So what can we expect from them in the upcoming elections? They will be helping hands to the PML-N in the polls.”

Party demands judicial officers be appointed as returning officers

Mr Kazmi said it would be difficult for fair elections under Punjab government. He said it was the duty of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to appoint judicial officials as returning officers to avoid interference from the ruling party in the elections.

He said the meeting also criticised holding of elections in three phases in Punjab. He said: “The provincial government will make a strategy to rig the elections after results from the first phase have come in. We demand elections in all 36 districts be held on the same date.”

Mr Kazmi said the PTI had witnessed the ‘worst election rigging’ in 2013 and will not let the ruling party repeat it in local government elections by appointing returning officers of its choice.

The PTI district chapter also allowed its tehsil organisers to make seat-to-seat adjustments with other opposition parties.

The party decided not to make the same adjustments with PML-N as PTI local leaders wanted to defeat the ruling party at any cost.

PTI decided to put its house in order before the elections and formed a five-member committee to pacify disgruntled workers before the polls. The committee comprises Chaudhry Azeem, Tariq Kiyani, Javed Kosar, Tariq Murtaza and Ghulam Sarwar Khan.

A senior PTI leader told Dawn the party had failed to announce its candidates for LG elections because of a shortage of suitable candidates and wanted to make seat-to-seat adjustments with other parties.

He said: “The party will have to face the reactions of workers who wanted to contest the elections but were not considered capable of securing maximum votes. The committee will convince them to work with the party.”

Meanwhile PTI leader Zahid Kazmi denied this and said it was not one of the aims of the committee to join all the party workers for PTI’s interests in the upcoming elections.

He said some wrong decisions were made regarding giving tickets to some members when cantonment board elections were held and the party did not want to repeat the same mistakes.

Published in Dawn October 1st, 2015

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