Maryam blames ‘agencies under PM’ for rigging

Published February 25, 2021
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz speaks at the press conference.—Arif Ali/White Star
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz speaks at the press conference.—Arif Ali/White Star

• Vows to expose names of officials involved in ‘rigging’, ‘kidnapping’ if govt fails to take action
• Urges SC ‘not to save sinking PTI ship’
• Hails grant of bail to Hamza, felicitates Cheema over Wazirabad victory

LAHORE/ GUJRAT: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz vice president Maryam Nawaz has for the first time named intelligence agencies working directly under the prime minister for their alleged role in ‘rigging’ and ‘kidnapping’ of presiding officers of 20 polling stations last week during the by-election in Daska.

“The agencies were being controlled from the Prime Minister House on polling day. We will expose the names of these officials if the government does not come clean and action is not taken against them,” said the PML-N leader in her interaction with journalists at her Jati Umra residence on Wednesday.

“Those responsible for the rigging be they are from Intelligence Bureau (IB), police, PTI office-bearers, or even the chief minister or the chief secretary, they must be taken to task,” she demanded and urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take action against them, otherwise she had with her the names of those from the agencies and the administration involved in the rigging.

She dismissed the assertions that the alleged rigging was done at a local level (by PTI). “The rigging was done by design and directly managed from the Prime Minister House,” she asserted.

She said the PML-N wanted re-election in the entire NA-75 constituency instead of 20 polling stations as proposed by Imran Khan. “The PTI government committed an organised rigging; first they resorted to firing to drive the voters away from polling stations, then closed the doors of the polling stations for six hours where majority of the voters were PML-N supporters and when they saw that despite this naked rigging PML-N was still in the lead, they kidnapped the polling staff of 20 polling stations and tampered with its results,” she said.

Earlier, PM Khan had directed the PTI’s candidate from Daska to petition for re-polling in the 20 polling stations in question, as the ECP had withheld the result of NA-75 and declared that the results of 20 polling stations were falsified.

The Feb 19 by-poll in Daska was marred by violence after two political activists were killed and four others wounded in a firing incident. Police failed to take action against those involved in firing and violence.

The returning officer (RO) in Daska proposed re-polling at “14 controversial polling stations” and provided to the ECP a comparative chart of Forms-45 submitted by the presiding officers and the PML-N candidate from the constituency showing a huge difference in voters’ turnout, votes polled and rejected ballots.

The ECP will take up this matter on Thursday (today).

The PML-N vice president also chided Mr Khan for his selection of the Senate candidates. “Imran’s goons got Senate tickets but those who struggled for democracy were ignored,” she said. She said such candidates got cleared by the ECP while PML-N leader Pervaiz Rashid’s nomination papers were rejected. “This is a double standard and the judiciary should take notice of it,” she demanded.

The PTI government was getting exposed in the Broadsheet case, claimed the daughter of deposed premier Nawaz Sharif. “The government had gone for taking money from Nawaz Sharif and instead had to pay Rs4.5m to him (in the Broadsheet case),” she said and regretted that the taxpayers money was used to avenge from the Sharif family.

Regarding open or secret ballot in the Senate polls, Ms Nawaz said the “fake government” could not do legislation on the secret ballot law. “We may change this law along with a democratic government,” she said.

She was of the opinion that the apex court should “not become a party” in this regard or attempt “to save the sinking ship of the PTI”.

While answering a question, she welcomed the grant of bail to her cousin and leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz and said together they would give a tough time to the PTI government.

Later in the day, the PML-N vice president addressed a public gathering at Manzoorabad village near Wazirabad that she visited to felicitate MPA Talat Shaukat Cheema for winning the PP-51 by-poll.

She claimed the PTI had attempted to steal the vote on two seats of Punjab (Daska and Wazirabad) considering Punjab was orphan, as the government did not make such an attempt in Sindh, Balochistan and even Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “But it were the people of Punjab who stood up against the theft of their vote and gave a wake-up call to the rulers,” she remarked.

Referendum against govt

She said that the Feb 19 by-poll was a referendum against the poor performance of the Imran government. She said the prime minister was trying to become smart by agreeing to a fresh vote in 20 polling stations of NA-75 after being caught red-handed stealing votes.

The PML-N leader claimed that if there had been no rigging in both these constituencies, surety bonds of ruling party candidates would have been forfeited.

For the alleged vote fraud, she said, Mr Khan seemed to be passing on the blame to Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar.

“Mr Khan has a history of finding scapegoats for his wrongdoings as he did it in case of money laundering from India and Israel by blaming PTI agents, in case of his offshore companies he put the blame on accountant and upon being caught in the theft of flour, sugar and medicines he shifted the blame on to his ATM machines,” she remarked.

She then saluted the people of Daska and Wazirabad who put up resistance against the officials of agencies, police and administration on Feb 19.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2021

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