HYDERABAD: Candidates of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have said that the elections were rigged to ensure victory of the MQM-P candidates in Hyderabad.

They expressed the hope that the judiciary would ensure justice in spite of the fact that it ranked low in delivery of justice.

PTI’s Dr Mustansir Billa and Naeem Samiuddin said at a joint news conference at local press club on Monday that the polls had been rigged massively, otherwise, they would have won their respective seats of NA-219 (Latifabad) and PS-64 (City). They said that as per Form-45, they had won the Feb 8 elections.

Samiuddin alleged that sealed bags were opened illegally in the public school after the polls were closed, the ballots were stamped in favour of their opponents and entries in forms were changed to turn their victory into defeat.

He said that they were told to take results after some time on the pretext that the system had stopped working. The results were finalised in the morning on Feb 9, adding that by the morning people had gathered and an untoward incident took place in which some PTI activists received bullet injuries.

Then they were handed over Form-47 by the returning officer (RO) which declared PTI candidates as runners-up, he said and claimed that they knew who was responsible for that.

He said that it did not benefit anyone as those winning seats would be ashamed of their victory. Forms 45 and 47 differed greatly, they said

He said that it was a rigged mandate and those winning candidates would not be able to face even their family members. The elections had questioned the role of institutions and there was embarrassment for them due to the rigging, they said.

He said the judiciary should ensure justice to give some credibility to the polls.

Dr Mustansir Billa said that he got 368 Form-45s of polling stations. He said that according to those forms, his rival MQM’s Aleem Khanzada had been losing. But eventually, Khanzada won and an MQM leader in Karachi announced victory over 18 seats.

He asked who had informed him that his party had won those seats. He maintained that people used to consider Hyderabad a city of the MQM, but the party had lost here.

He said the MQM always bargained in assemblies and raised their fortunes in the government. Those winners had lost credibility, he said, adding that the judiciary ranked 143 in terms of performance-based ranking; it would drop further due to the present elections.

He said that it was referendum on Imran Khan and not the general elections, and blamed district returning officer Tariq Qureshi and returning officer Khalid Soomro for the rigging.

He accused the Hyderabad SSP of calling MQM-P activists to the polling stations to attack PTI workers. PTI’s Lala Awais was winning PS-62, but MQM’s Sabir Kaimkhani was declared the winner, he said.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2024

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