LAHORE: The PML-N and PPP have locked horns over allegations of vote buying against each other while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) awaits the Punjab government’s report on the alleged incident that took place in Lahore on Saturday.

Tensions between both the mainstream parties intensified when the PML-N candidate for NA-127 Attaullah Tarar, who is facing PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in the Lahore constituency, stormed PPP’s election office and caught three people allegedly collecting CNICs of the voters after paying them cash and taking oath of allegiance from them.

The PPP alleged that ‘the PML-N goons’ led by Mr Tarar had kidnapped its workers while PML-N said it handed over three PPP supporters to the Kot Lakhpat police.

Mr Tarar uploaded to the social media video clips of his ‘raid’ on the PPP office and also handed them over to the ECP as evidence while the PPP also uploaded a clip in which some masked men were seen buying votes at an election office of PML-N.

PPP election cell in-charge Senator Taj Haider has also written to the ECP to take notice of Mr Tarar’s ‘hooliganism’ at the party office and disqualify him for the polls. The letter stated that when Mr Tarar, accompanied by “over 300 goons” forcibly entered the office of the PPP candidate from PP-160 Mian Misbahur Rehman in Lahore, the latter was engaged in campaign activities and polling agents were being mobilised for an upcoming training session.

PPP asks Sharifs to apologise after Tarar’s incursion into NA-127; Shehbaz terms vote buying worst insult to franchise; ECP awaits Punjab govt’s report

The letter questioned why Punjab Police personnel were assisting Mr Tarar and his men during the incursion.

The PPP also alleged that it was not an isolated incident as its candidates were being harassed and intimidated across Punjab and police were complicit in it.

At two separate press conferences, PPP leaders, including Shehla Reza, Sehar Kamran, Zulfikar Ali Bader, Barrister Amir Hassan and Aslam Gill, asked under what law Mr Tarar entered their party office and kidnapped three PPP workers.

They alleged that Tarar and allies also took away precious cell phones and some jewellery from there. It was a robbery at gunpoint, they added.

The PPP leaders claimed that their party workers were preparing voter slips when the incident took place. Urging Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif to take notice of the incident and tender apologies, they warned that next time the PML-N would find them prepared to counter any such attack.

They regretted that the police were not registering the FIR of the incident and warned of a protest if the police did not take action at the earliest.

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif said at a presser earlier in the day that if vote-buying allegations were true, it’s the worst insult of the right to franchise.

Mr Tarar, at a separate presser, challenged the PPP to prove that the masked men were buying votes for the PML-N and he would withdraw his candidature for the contest.

He claimed that the PPP was not being seen in the field in NA-127 and Mr Bhutto-Zardari was made to contest from Lahore without any preparations.

Now votes were being bought for the PPP chairman and those selling their loyalties were being made to take oath on holy books, the PML-N leader added.

Justifying his raid, Mr Tara said he went there along with the media as there were long queues outside the PPP election office, while inside, there were stacks of currency notes.

He said he had first approached the district administration to take notice of the ‘illegal’ activity and requested the ECP to implement the relevant law.

The PML-N leader claimed multiple teams had been set up to keep an eye on vote-buying sprees in the constituency.

Meanwhile, the ECP has issued notices to Mr Tarar and PPP’s Mr Rehman in the wake of the allegations.

A spokesperson for the ECP said that the district monitoring officer has summoned both candidates along with documentary evidence on Feb 5 (today).

The spokesperson added that the commission has also expressed concern at the delay in the submission of report by the Punjab government on the incident.

The Lahore deputy commissioner has been directed to take immediate action on the incident and submit a report, the official says.

The deputy commissioner has instructed Mr Tarar and Mr Rehman to appear separately on Monday (today) along with record, evidence and any documentary proof in their defence.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2024


To find your constituency and location of your polling booth, SMS your NIC number (no spaces) to 8300. Once you know your constituency, visit the ECP website here for candidates.

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