LARKANA: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Sindh senior vice president Sardar Amir Bakhsh Bhutto has termed the first phase of local bodies elections in Sindh as ‘cruel joke’ with people of Sindh and said it was not election it ‘selection’.

In a press statement released here on Tuesday, he said that there was not even the faintest pretence of fairness and impartiality in the voting process.

He alleged that everyone from the DROs’ and ROs’ to the polling station staff were appointed by the Sindh government and they were clearly instructed to ensure victory of Pakistan Peoples Party candidates at all costs, and they obediently discharged their duties without any shame or regard for law.

Mr Bhutto said that the rigging began even before polling day as their candidates for the post of Warisdino Machi union council in Ratodero taluka was denied the opportunity to contest by excluding his name from the ballot paper because his vice chairman candidate had retired earlier, even though the Sukkur bench of the Sindh High Court had ruled that this would not disqualify the chairman.

He said there was open rigging on the election day before the eyes of the staff as PPP polling agents and workers fearlessly stamped ballot papers. Without naming, he said even ‘a PPP MNA joined in an effort to avoid defeat in his home polling station’.

“Instead of stopping them, the polling station staff, too, brazenly started stamping ballot papers themselves,” he said and added that when their polling agents objected, they were told that they could get them transferred from their jobs if they could.

He went on saying that when their polling agents asked for police to be posted at polling stations, they were told no police personnel were available. On the contrary, when a PPP polling agent called a police officer to avert defeat at any polling station, the SSP himself would arrive with 10-12 mobiles and take away the ballot boxes.

He alleged that PPP workers continuously harassed and assaulted their workers, but the police refused to take action because of which many polling stations turned into a battlefield.

He said if this was the kind of election the government wanted to hold, then it would have been better if they had just announced the list of winning candidates without this ugly pretence of an election which wasted billions of rupees of public funds, and which would not be accepted by anyone.

He said if they wanted to unleash violence at the polls, then they should have organised a war on a set battlefield rather than a sham election, and let the conqueror take the spoils. He said PPP was afraid to face its opponents and the wrath of public opinion in a fair election and added they knew they could not win without rigging.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2022

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