GUJRAT/LAHORE: Shifting from its earlier stand of fresh ballot in 53 polling stations in NA-75 (Daska), the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) demanded re-election in the entire National Assembly constituency while the ruling party claimed victory and said people of Daska had rejected the narrative of Nawaz Sharif.
Daska became a centre point of national politics after violence and alleged vote fraud during the NA-75 by-poll on Friday, as main leadership of the ruling PTI and opposition PML-N visited the town on Sunday.
PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz along with a contingent of party leaders, including Rana Sanaullah, Marriyum Aurangzaib and Attaullah Tarrar, visited the family of party worker Zeeshan Butt who was killed during a violent clash at a polling station in Daska.
Similarly, a PTI team comprising federal ministers Senator Shibli Faraz, Fawad Chaudhary, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Usman Dar and Special Assistant to the Chief Minister (of Punjab) Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan visited the residence of slain PTI worker Majid who too was killed in the clash.
PTI claims victory, Nawaz demands strict action against those who held presiding officers hostage
The team condoled with the family of the deceased and offered prayers for the departed soul. Later the PTI leaders also visited the injured party workers in a hospital.
Speaking to a large gathering of PML-N supporters later, Maryam Nawaz praised people of Daska and Wazirabad for resisting every effort for stealing their vote through the brutal use of police and state machinery.
She said the PML-N worker had sacrificed his life for the sake of party narrative of “respect to vote”.
According to Ms Nawaz, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is a constitutional safeguard of the voting right of 220 million people of Pakistan and through its own press release it has doubted the election process, which now requires re-election in the entire NA-75 and that too under assurances by the ECP of holding free, fair and transparent election.
She thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan and his ministers and advisers who had made the Daska by-poll an election of entire Pakistan through their stupid approach and misuse of power.
Meanwhile, speaking at a news conference in Daska, Information Minister Faraz said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate Ali Asjad Malhi had won the by-election and the ECP should announce the results.
The minister said the PML-N leadership was frustrated as the anti-state narrative of Nawaz Sharif had lost support among masses. On the contrary, Prime Minister Imran Khan enjoyed a massive support of the people, he added.
Mr Faraz said the PML-N was scared as Mr Khan wanted to bring transparency to the electoral process by eliminating any chances of rigging and the politics of intimidation.
He said the PML-N was in the habit of doing politics of intimidation, hooliganism and bribe, and its leadership repeated that practice by sending Rana Sanaullah, Javed Latif and others to create law and order situation in Daska, where peaceful electioneering was underway.
Now the PML-N leaders were shedding crocodile tears over the killing of two workers, that had refreshed the memories of Model Town massacre in which innocent women and children were brutally killed, he added.
He said the killing of workers on the polling day took place under the patronage of Rana Sanaullah.
He said due to mass acceptance of the prime minister’s narrative, the PTI had got more votes in Daska and Wazirabad constituencies in the Friday vote as compared to 2018 election. The difference between the votes secured by PTI and PML-N in Wazirabad has narrowed from 33,000 to 4,000 only.
The lead of PML-N was 40,000 in 2018 but this time it was facing defeat in Daska, he said.
Castigating the opposition leaders, he said they had already been exposed owing to hypocrisy shown in their lack of interest in making the Senate elections transparent and stopping vote buying.
He said the government was working hard to introduce electronic voting system to ensure transparency. Legislation was being enacted to give right to vote to expatriate Pakistanis, he said.
He said the federal ministers had come to Daska on the directive of the prime minister to offer condolences to the family of deceased PTI worker.
Fawad Chaudhary condemned the attack on Geo TV office in Karachi and said the media could not operate under such attacks and police should take action against those involved in the act.
Rejecting around 90 per cent turnout at the polling stations whose presiding officers had gone “missing” after the polling process in Daska by-election, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has demanded strictest action against the elements involved in the incident.
In a tweet on Sunday, the PML-N supremo, who is in London for more than a year for medical treatment, says the nation rejects the disappearance of the presiding officers in Daska and over 90pc turnout in specific polling stations instead of 30pc [the average in over 300 plus other polling stations] like it had rejected the malfunctioning of RTS (result transmission system) in the 2018 elections.
He says the ECP press release on the issue is an “open FIR against the “selected/selectors”.
Talking to media at Jati Umra before leaving for Daska, Maryam Nawaz said the PML-N would have gifted the Daska seat to the PTI if it knew the ruling party would go to the extreme of killing people.
She said these thieves of flour and sugar had failed in every field and everywhere in the country.
Referring to the challenge given by some PTI leaders to Ms Nawaz, daring her to visit Daska, she suspected some nefarious plans of the PTI men behind this challenge. But she vowed to visit the town at any cost.
About the controversy on the killing of two youths in firing during the Daska by-poll, she said the PML-N owned its workers unlike the PTI which, she said, was neither a party nor had a future.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2021