PTI says Feb 8 polls to be remembered for ‘biggest voter fraud’

Published February 16, 2024
PTI press conference on alleged pole rigging, Islamabad, Friday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI press conference on alleged pole rigging, Islamabad, Friday. — DawnNewsTV

PTI Central Information Secretary Raoof Hasan on Friday said the February 8 general elections would be remembered due to the “biggest voter fraud” in Pakistan’s history against the party and its candidates.

Nearly 60.6 million Pakistanis voted in the country’s 12th general elections last week. However, the poll day was marred by a day-long suspension of cellular services and allegations of rigging, prompting criticism from several countries.

Foreign and domestic observers and stakeholders raised concerns over alleged electoral interference, including the detention of political activists. They emphasised that all accusations of irregularities, manipulation, and fraudulent activities warrant comprehensive investigation while political parties such as the PTI, Jamaat-i-Islami and Grand Democratic Alliance.

The PTI addressed a press conference in Islamabad today on the alleged rigging.

“According to our estimates, only 92 [National Assembly seats] have been given to us out of 177 seats which were supposed to be ours. And 85 seats have been taken away from us fraudulently,” Hasan said, adding that the party was taking constitutional and legal steps in this regard.

“We have verified data about 46 seats and it is being compiled for 39 seats,” he said. The PTI spokesperson said the party had three ways to ascertain alleged rigging in the polls, saying that there were discrepancies between the Form 45 and the Form 47.

Hasan further said that there was also a huge difference in the numbers of votes polled for National Assembly and provincial assembly seats. He said that the number of rejected votes, in certain cases, exceeded the margin of victory.

PTI’s Seemabia Tahir took the stage and played a video of alleged rigging in the polls.

“We got 1.25m votes in Karachi [but] we did not get a single seat. Jamaat-i-Islami received 700,000 votes and not a single National Assembly seat in Karachi,” she said.

“In Punjab, we got 13.6m votes and we were given 55 seats. This is a joke with the people of Pakistan,” she said. Showing graphics on a large screen, she said that at 3am on Feb 9, the PTI had won 154 seats in the National Assembly while the PML-N and PPP had won 47 each.

She said that the party was winning 42 seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, of which some were stolen and the party was handed 37.

“From Islamabad, we were winning three and all three were stolen from us,” he said. “In Punjab we were winning 115 and 55 were given to us. In Balochistan we were getting four we got one,” she said.

Lawyer Salman Akram Raja, who contested the polls with the PTI’s backing, said that the “rigging” which happened during the elections took place at the office of the returning officer (RO).

“Normally one talks of rigging at polling stations, where the accusation is that the rival candidates carried out the rigging. But once the votes have all been brought to the office of the RO […] and once Form 45, that tabulates the result in every polling station, has been brought to the office of the RO, one expects that the final aggregate based on the results from each of the polling stations would be done fairly by the RO.”

He said that what happened on election night and Feb 9 was a “massive assault” on democracy in Pakistan. He alleged that “fictitious” Form 47s were created and the Form 45s were “tampered with”.

“What is the point in holding an election if you are going to create a result out of thin air?” he asked. “If the state officials responsible for safeguarding the election can be won over […] then every election to be carried out in Pakistan becomes a farce,” Raja added.

“If this is not reversed then it spells death for democracy in Pakistan. This was not just an election fraud, it was a wholesale assault on democracy in Pakistan,” the lawyer said.

Ayaz Amir, who contested with the support of the PTI, said along similar lines: “What were mechanics of rigging in my Chakwal constituency NA-58 […] the one thing done early in the evening was that the office of the returning officer (RO) was sealed.”

He said the RO’s office was sealed by the police and the “caretakers of the caretakers”.

Amir said that he visited the RO office at 6pm on election day but he was kicked out around 7:30-8pm. “Which means that the RO and other people were there and they could do what they wanted,” he said.

He said that he was in possession of the “original” Form 45 of all polling stations in his constituency.

Usman Dar’s mother Rehana Dar, who contested the Feb 8 polls with the support of the PTI from NA-71, said that she was a housewife who had nothing to do with politics but was compelled to contest the elections.

She alleged that her house was raided on the directives of PML-N’s Khawaja Asif.

Rehana said that thousands of “brave sons, mothers and daughters” showed her support in the polls. “The votes were not for me, they were for Imran Khan. The city of Sialkot loves Imran Khan,” she said.

“Contest elections outside. Don’t break doors and disrespect a mother,” she said. “If you want, I am ready to contest the polls again,” she added.

Meanwhile, party leader Khurram Sher Zaman lamented the “daylight robbery” in Karachi during the polls.

He decried that seats were “handed out” to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan. He noted that when the PTI formed its government in 2018, Karachi had played the biggest role in this regard.

Zaman said that according to the Form 45, the PTI had won 19 National Assembly seats in Karachi. He said that the JI had garnered the second highest number of votes according to the Form 45.

Form 45 floated on media, social media beforehand: PML-N

Meanwhile, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said that after election results were being compiled, they were also being shown on TV.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore with Ataullah Tarar, she said: “Form 45 were floated on the media and social media beforehand […] when they were being shown on TV screens, they were being compiled.”

Aurangzeb said that she stated again and again that the Form 45s were incorrect.

She said that an impression was created of winning or losing on a small percentage of results.

Aurangzeb alleged that the PTI was only trying to “spread anarchy” in the country. “They want to repeat the conspiracy of May which was left incomplete,” she said.

Opinion

Editorial

IMF’s projections
Updated 18 Apr, 2024

IMF’s projections

The problems are well-known and the country is aware of what is needed to stabilise the economy; the challenge is follow-through and implementation.
Hepatitis crisis
18 Apr, 2024

Hepatitis crisis

THE sheer scale of the crisis is staggering. A new WHO report flags Pakistan as the country with the highest number...
Never-ending suffering
18 Apr, 2024

Never-ending suffering

OVER the weekend, the world witnessed an intense spectacle when Iran launched its drone-and-missile barrage against...
Saudi FM’s visit
Updated 17 Apr, 2024

Saudi FM’s visit

The government of Shehbaz Sharif will have to manage a delicate balancing act with Pakistan’s traditional Saudi allies and its Iranian neighbours.
Dharna inquiry
17 Apr, 2024

Dharna inquiry

THE Supreme Court-sanctioned inquiry into the infamous Faizabad dharna of 2017 has turned out to be a damp squib. A...
Future energy
17 Apr, 2024

Future energy

PRIME MINISTER Shehbaz Sharif’s recent directive to the energy sector to curtail Pakistan’s staggering $27bn oil...