PESHAWAR/CHARSADDA: Awami National Party central president Asfandyar Wali Khan has rejected the results of the July 25 general elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over rigging and announced that his party would hold peaceful protests in all district headquarters of the province on July 30 (Monday).
He also accused the ‘trio’ of the Election Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan Army and caretaker government of keeping Pakhtun leaders out of the National Assembly and said they all would sit together afterward to finalise future course of action.
“We (ANP) follow Bacha Khan’s philosophy of non-violence movement and therefore, we (ANP) will record our protest against poll rigging in a peaceful manner,” he told a news conference in Charsadda on Friday after a meeting of the party’s ‘think tank’.
Asfandyar alleges ECP, army, caretakers teamed up to keep Pakhtun leaders out of NA
Accompanied by ANP general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain and other leaders, who suffered defeat in the recent elections, Mr Asfandyar said in 2013, terrorists had tried to keep his party out of elections but this time around, that was done by the ‘trio’ of the ECP, Pakistan Army and caretaker government.
“In the 2013 elections, injustice was meted out to us by terrorists and in 2018 elections, the culprits are the ECP, Pakistan Army and interim government,” he said.
In a veiled reference to the PTI and its chairman Imran Khan, the ANP chief said the elections were rigged to favour one party, especially its leader.
He said the party’s think tank discussed how the party’s polling agents were mistreated by the Army personnel when they asked for Form 45 carrying election results.
Mr Asfandyar said the polling agents were driven out of polling station at the time of vote count.
He also said the polling duration was unfavourable and unfair to those associated with the ANP and that he was threatened with terrorist attacks before elections to prevent him from campaigning.
“If security agencies have details of attackers, then why they don’t go after them,” he wondered.
Mr Asfandyar said he saluted the people, especially women, for stepping out to vote for the party despite unfavourable circumstances.
He said what happened after the polling ended at 6pm was a mystery.
“Some rigging videos circulating on social media are enough to open the eyes of the Election Commission of Pakistan. If the chief election commissioner wants to know reality about election rigging, it is there on social media,” he said.
The ANP chief said when polling agents were thrown out of polling stations, putting up a request to the returning officers for vote recount was useless.
He said votes were stamped after polling agents were driven out of polling stations.
Mr Asfandyar and his son, Aimal Wali Khan, have lost elections in their home district, Charsadda. Other key leaders of the party, including Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour and Syed Aqil Shah, also failed to win elections in their respective constituencies.
The ANP chief said despite facing unfavourable conditions and fears of rigging, the party didn’t take the extreme step of boycotting elections to leave the ground open to political rivals.
He however said the party had never known that there would be so blatant and naked rigging on the election day.
In a veiled reference to the PTI and its chairman Imran Khan, Mr Asfandyar said the entire election manoeuvring favoured one party and its leader to keep Pakhtun leaders, including Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Sirajul Haq, Aftab Ahmad Sherpao besides him, out of the National Assembly so that no one could give him a tough time.
He said all Pakhtun leaders would discuss future course of action against election rigging and for re-election.
The ANP leader thanked party workers, especially women, for stepping out to vote for the party’s nominees despite security issues and hot weather.
Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2018