Protests across country against alleged ‘election rigging’ escalate

Published February 12, 2024
POLICE detain a PTI supporter from a protest near the office of a returning officer in Lahore, on Sunday.—AFP
POLICE detain a PTI supporter from a protest near the office of a returning officer in Lahore, on Sunday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakis­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers and supporters on Sunday initiated protests in various cities across the country against alleged “rigging in the general election” held on Feb 8.

PTI workers blocked the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway in continuing protest against what they called rigging in the general elections in Peshawar.

A large number of PTI workers and supporters gathered at the Motorway toll plaza, blocking the road to all vehicular traffic from noon until Sunday night.

The PTI workers have been protesting for the third consecutive day against alleged rigging on eight Provincial and one National Assembly seats in the elections.

The sit-in was ongoing at the time of filing this report.

Arrests in Punjab

In Punjab, PTI initially planned “peaceful” pro­test demonstrations against “massive rigging post-polling” across major cities but cancelled some of them hours before the scheduled time, citing fears of “a false flag operation”.

Nevertheless, protests took place in several cities across the province, including Lahore, where police arrested dozens of PTI supporters who reached the protest venues.

In Rahim Yar Khan, police reportedly raided the residences of seven PTI-backed independent candidates who won their seats on Feb 8, allegedly to coerce them into joining PML-N, according to local PTI leadership.

Sindh protests escalate

Political parties across Sindh continued their protests against alleged rigging for the second consecutive day as Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) blocked road links in the province, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) staged sit-ins in different parts of Karachi, and PTI again held a demonstration outside ECP Sindh’s headquarters in the city.

Workers and leaders of JUI-F blocked the highway connecting Sindh and Balochistan, alleging that the Feb 8 polls’ results were manipulated in favour of the Pakistan Peoples Party. They warned of continuing the protest indefinitely.

In Karachi, JI staged sit-ins at eight key intersections, demanding the ECP to declare the “fake results” of the general elections null and void. JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, addressing one of the sit-ins, vowed to continue the “struggle against fascism” and said that the JI rejected the fake mandate.

A large number of PTI workers gathered outside ECP Sindh’s headquarters to register their protest. PTI leader Khurram Sher Zaman, addressing the workers, urged them to remain calm and peaceful while struggling for their constitutional rights.

“I appeal to you to stay peaceful and not get provoked because there’s a conspiracy to put you against our law enforcement agencies and create a law and order situation,” he said.

“I assure you that your mandate isn’t going anywhere. You will regain that mandate. We will go to the courts and fight a legal battle. We have made our preparations, and we are confident that we will win back each and every Karachi constituency.”

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2024

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