GUJRAT: The reckless use of the state machinery, especially police, in Feb 19 Daska by-polls has baffled not only the opposition leaders and local politicians but also the police circles.

Some senior police officers talking to Dawn on condition of anonymity expressed their grave concern over excessive political use of the force

in the Daska by-poll. Some of them even expressed sympathy for Sialkot District Police Officer Hassan Asad Alwi, who despite otherwise being a “thorough professional” failed to handle the situation on the polling day because of immense political pressure.

One of the officers said that the PML-N when it was in power (2013-18), too had tried to pressurise the then regional police officer (RPO) Zulfiqar Cheema to use police to secure a favourable situation for its candidate for the by-poll in a National Assembly constituency of Gujranwala, but the officer resisted the pressure, resulting in the defeat of the ruling party hopeful.

Commenting on the claims made by Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar about increase in PTI vote in Daska and Wazirabad constituencies, NA-75 and PP-51, respectively, as compared to its score in 2018 election, PPP Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira said the way government used the state machinery in favour of the PTI candidates in theseconstituencies of central Punjab, the party would find it hard to even have polling agents there in the next election.

He said because of the people’s reaction to the abuse of power by the PTI, these by-polls would continue to haunt Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party in the future.

He said PTI had lost most of the by-polls since 2018 polls, and that too on the seats vacated by the PM and other senior party leaders across the country, which also put a big question mark on the credibility of the last general elections.

Moreover, he said the PTI’s by-poll defeat across the country was enough a proof of people’s mistrust of its government’s performance.

“You can only imagine where the party [PTI] would be, when it won’t be in power,” he said.

PML-N Gujranwala division president MNA Abid Raza expressed his apprehensions regarding national integration because of the government’smindset, that he said, was bent upon bulldozing the national institutions only for the sake of winning a National Assembly seat.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2021

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