SARGODHA/ISLAMABAD: While calling out the usual suspects for rigging that he fears might take place in the upcoming by-polls on 20 Punjab Assembly seats, PTI chief Imran Khan on Thursday asked “ten courageous youths” in each area to guard polling stations to thwart such attempts.
On Friday, Mr Khan addressed back-to-back rallies in Khushab and Kahuta to campaign for PTI’s candidates, where he censured his political rivals and the chief election commissioner.
“I have come to you to tell that this is not just a by-election. This election will decide whether we accept these thieves or we want to be a sovereign and independent Pakistan,” said Mr Khan.
He urged the youth to “take responsibility” and guard each and every polling station in their areas.
While calling out the chief election commissioner, PML-N and PPP leaders, Mr Khan also, referred to a “Mr X” with a warning to refrain from rigging the polls in the PML-N’s favor. Without mentioning a name, Mr Khan claimed that “Mr X”, who is sitting in Lahore, is colluding with PML-N leaders to rig the polls.
Warns ‘Mr X’ to refrain from rigging, demands ‘neutrals’ stay away from polls; claims CEC, PPP, PML-N sabotaged plans to introduce EVMs
Mr Khan, once again, criticised Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, who he claimed was “bowing in front of Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz.”
He also claimed that the federal government had handed over a lucrative posting to the CEC’s spouse in the customs department.
“This time, the chief election commissioner is fully prepared for rigging. I just saw today that his wife has been given a post where [she could] make a lot of money. She was posted in Customs,” said Mr Khan.
However, he warned the alleged conspirators that the scale of rigging required to fix the polls in favor of “thieves” would be so massive that “it would discredit the whole exercise” and the country would further descend into anarchy.
He added that he tried to introduce electronic voting machines to root out rigging but the move was sabotaged by the PPP, PML-N and the CEC.
“We worked hard to introduce EVMs to ensure the end of election rigging in last two years but the chief election commissioner and the two main political parties PPP and PML-N blocked the move,” said Khan.
While referring to the difference in the democracy in the UK and Pakistan, Mr Khan said that the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was aksed by his own party to quite the office for holding a gathering at the time of lockdown during the pandemic.
On the other hand, in Pakistan, he said, “the PPP and PML-N leaders know that Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are corrupt but they don’t have to courage to demand their resignation.”
Establishment, govt don’t want free and fair election
In a separate development on Thursday, Mr Khan expressed his fears that neither the government, nor the “establishment” want free and fair elections.
“I am afraid neither the PDM parties, who have perfected the art of rigging over the years want free and fair elections, nor does our Establishment,” a tweet from Mr Khan’s official handle reads.
He also referred to a report which claimed that 130 out of 163 methods of rigging could be eliminated with the use of EVMs.
The report by an organisation Pattan claimed that 163 illegal and unethical means were being used to influence will of the electorates and results of polls in Pakistan.
“This Pattan Report once again makes it obvious why these two criminal family mafias opposed the EVM machines as did the shamefully biased & controlled ECP. With EVMs 130 out of 163 ways of rigging elections in Pak would have been eliminated,” another tweet reads.
The report recommended minimizing human involvement in the elections which as envisioned in the sections 94 and 104 of the Elections Act 2017 and appealed the political leadership to foster democracy within their parties.
The political class must not seek support from the establishment to win the elections and the ECP must take concrete steps to make election staff free from the influence of political parties, the report suggested.
‘Neutrals’ support in July 17 polls will damage the country’
Before embarking on the journey to address the rallies, Mr Khan addressed electronic media journalists at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore in which he demanded the “neutrals” to stay away from the polling process.
"If the neutrals support rigging in the July 17 by-elections, they will further damage the country,” he asserted.
He regretted that the Punjab government with the help of administration is making all out efforts to rig the polls which, he warned, will invite the public’s wrath.
Mansoor Malik in Lahore and Ikram Junaidi in Islamabad also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2022