Asad Umar warns of 'difficult situation' if ECP fails to do justice during Punjab by-polls

Published July 8, 2022
PTI secretary general Asad Umar addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI secretary general Asad Umar addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

PTI Secretary General Asad Umar warned on Friday that the country would move towards a "difficult situation" if the public perceived the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was "not doing justice or becoming a silent spectator when the law is violated" during the upcoming by-elections in Punjab.

He was addressing a press conference in Islamabad in connection with the by-elections that will be held on July 17.

The PTI has alleged that "interference" is afoot to change the results of the upcoming by-polls. It has blamed the government for allegedly changing voters’ lists and using state machinery to benefit ex-PTI candidates the ruling parties are backing.

In his press conference today, Umar asked party workers to fully prepare for the upcoming elections.

"Whatever they do, the PTI will win with a big majority on July 17. Once Punjab goes out of their (the government's) hands, what will the imported prime minister do in Islamabad? We are heading towards new elections."

He also criticised the electoral watchdog and "advised" it to allot itself an election symbol as well since it was "behaving like a political party".

Umar went on to say claim that it was clear that PTI was "leading prominently" in all constituencies they had visited, as he cited polls.

"And it is not surprising, especially with the extraordinary increase in Imran Khan's popularity in the last few months," he added. "And the most welcome aspect is that all the different societal sectors, from the lowest-earning ones to the most educated, we are seeing the nation uniting."

He said it was evident and the "fake" government could also see that.

"Elections will be held on the 17th and then chief minister's election will be held on 22, after which this story will be concluded," Umar said. "But they are not ready to go away so easily."

He lamented the manner in which the law and the Constitution were "being violated" and the people were being "harassed and terrorised".

The former minister claimed that "direct calls" were being made from assistant commissioners and district commissioners to officials in Punjab. "Our people are being threatened and FIRs registered," he added.

'Illegally registering votes'

"The most dangerous thing is illegally registering votes. We have filed a petition. Individual petitions have already been filed but ECP has not taken any action."

Umar added that the law "clearly says votes cannot be changed once election date is announced", but claimed that new votes had been registered in electoral rolls issued.

"They are mostly those whose temporary or permanent addresses do not fall in that constituency [...] It is a test for the ECP and courts."

In response to a question, the PTI secretary-general said the party's fight was against injustice, undemocratic attitudes and foreign interference.

It is not against one individual, it is an ideological battle, he emphasised.

Meanwhile, the ECP issued a clarification on the matter, saying media reports regarding the registration of votes were "unfounded and based on propaganda to mislead the masses".

The ECP statement said no change could be made to voter list once the election schedule was announced.

"The ECP is resolved to conduct transparent and peaceful election on the 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly," the electoral watchdog added.

'Imran Riaz will come back a hero'

He also spoke about the arrest of journalist Imran Riaz Khan. He pointed out that it had not yet been established which court had the jurisdiction to deal with the case.

"Can people not see this is a part of tactics being used to create terror?" he asked.

"Imran Riaz Khan is not losing anything, he will come back as a hero. The damage [rendered] is to the public's trust in the system.

"You cannot suppress thoughts with handcuffs," Umar said.

During his press conference, the PTI leader reiterated the party's claims that their supporters were receiving calls from "unknown numbers".

Read: 'Threatening calls from unknown numbers' should stop: Fawad

Umar alleged that housewives who supported the party were now receiving phone calls from "unknown numbers" warning them to stop posting on social media.

Men in plainclothes came to the house of an 80-year-old widow and alleged that she had kidnapped a two-year-old girl, he claimed. The more that such tactics are used, the more passionate people will become, he added.

Imran gives 'traitor' tag to CEC

Umar's comments come a day after PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan lambasted the civil administration as well as the Election Commission for helping 'turncoats' win the by-election scheduled for July 17.

He said Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja would be considered a ‘traitor’ in times to come and added that the CEC did not utter a word on the massive use of state power and rigging in local government elections in Sindh.

He also regretted that the ‘thieves and dacoits’ in connivance with the chief election commissioner did not let the electronic voting machines be introduced in elections.

Meanwhile, the ECP rejected Imran’s tirade. “The PTI chief’s allegations against the commission and its head are baseless. The ECP will continue its work according to law and will resist pressure,” a statement by the commission spokesman said.



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