PML-N plans protests against AJK poll ‘rigging’

Published July 27, 2021
“I have not accepted the AJK election results… and I will not," Maryam Nawaz tweeted. — Reuters/File
“I have not accepted the AJK election results… and I will not," Maryam Nawaz tweeted. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: The top PML-N leadership has refused to accept the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) election results and accused the Punjab government of using its machinery to rig the polls.

The party is mulling moving the courts and holding a protest drive against the alleged rigging.

“I have not accepted the AJK election results… and I will not. I had neither accepted the results of the 2018 general election nor this fake government. The PML-N will soon announce a strategy on this shameful rigging in the AJK polls,” PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz tweeted on Monday.

The PTI clinched 25 seats, nine of them in Pakistan, while the PML-N got six seats including two in Pakistan, according to unofficial results.

Questions being asked why Shehbaz stayed away from party’s election campaign

The PML-N has also accused the PTI government in Punjab of using its machinery to rig polling on nine seats of the AJK polls falling in the province.

“July 25 will be remembered as the day of rigging by vote thieves in the country. The Buzdar administration sent police, teachers, polling and other administrative staff to AJK from Punjab to ensure rigging in the polls. The Punjab government also openly used its machinery to rig polling in nine constituencies falling in the province,” PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Azma Bokhari alleged.

The PML-N has also alleged that Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, who was in the run for the office of AJK prime minister, played a role in the rigging. “Ilyas, the special assistant to Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on the affairs related to business, investment and trade, extensively used the resources of the province to get the job done,” Ms Bokhari further said, adding that senior superintendents of police and deputy commissioners were tasked with getting the PTI candidates elected.

“We wonder how the state functionaries have become personal servants of someone,” she said, and warned the people of AJK that the PTI government would make their lives miserable as they had done with the people of Pakistan.

Talking to Dawn, the PML-N lawmaker further said the party was considering moving courts and holding protests to challenge the rigging. “The AJK election was a repeat of the 2018 general polls. In the 2018 election, the Results Transmission System was compromised and in AJK, similar tactics were adopted,” Ms Bokhari alleged, adding that even ballot papers of PML-N candidates were found burnt in some constituencies.

“Prior to the polling, the PTI government with the help of the establishment forced at least four strong candidates to switch sides. The footprints of the tactics of 2018 polls are clearly found on the AJK polls,” she alleged and disclosed that protests against the rigged polls were being held in Muzaffarabad and Bagh, but the media was not allowed to cover it. “We will not let the selected government digest the stolen victory.”

PML-N senior leader Pervaiz Rashid said that a PTI candidate for a seat falling in Punjab could not get a single vote from the hometown of Prime Minister Imran Khan, but ironically the premier won the AJK polls and was set to form a government there.

PML-N Central Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said Sunday’s polls in AJK were a “replay of 2018 general elections” that were massively rigged. “The PML-N was leading till the count of the common man’s votes but when it stopped, vote thieves were found to be ahead of the party,” she alleged.

Shehbaz’s Absence

Questions are now being raised within the party as to why the opposition leader in National Assembly and PML-N president, Shehbaz Sharif, did not even address a single rally during the AJK election campaign. “Was it the party’s deliberate strategy or Maryam Nawaz wanted to run the show single-handedly?” a PML-N leader questioned while talking to Dawn.

Ms Nawaz had extensively run the party’s campaign in AJK and pulled a crowd in every rally.

The PML-N leader said some in the party believed that since Ms Nawaz was a crowd-puller, PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif had given a go-ahead to his daughter to spearhead all polls, including by-elections and those in AJK, and directed his younger brother (Shehbaz) to concentrate on parliamentary politics.

Another party leader said Shehbaz had been convinced that Maryam was a crowd-puller and to avoid comparison with her it was better for him to confine himself to parliamentary politics.

When asked about the reasons behind Shehbaz’s absence from the PML-N’s campaign for AJK polls, Azma Bokhari said: “It was decided by the party president (Shehbaz) that Maryam Nawaz will lead the AJK election campaign as Shehbaz Sharif has a backache. However, he was scheduled to address the last two rallies but could not because of the death of Hamza Shehbaz’s mother-in-law.”

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2021

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