On Sunday, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that the “plan of rigging” of the ruling party had been fully exposed in the NA-75 (Daska) by-polls.
The comment came while Maryam was speaking to the media in Jati Umra in Lahore before leaving for Daska as a show of gratitude to the people of Daska who “gave respect to the vote… and gave patrol till the last moment”.
“The plan of rigging they made using the administration and the police,” she said, had “failed badly” despite its implementation and the use of the “worst state terrorism” to enforce it. “This is a glaring thing that they used every tactic and are now out in the open and stand exposed… they should now know their standing in the eyes of the people.”
The NA-75 by-polls saw violent clashes on Friday, which claimed two lives. Voters and the police clashed in multiple places, including polling stations and a police station several times on the polling day. The authorities prevented voters from casting their votes, leaders of the PML-N alleged.
In a statement on Friday, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that the results of 20 polling stations might have been falsified in the by-election for the NA-75 (Daska) constituency as the PML-N alleged massive rigging. The commission also noted that the results were received after “unnecessary delay”, and the commission would not contact the presiding officers during this time.
“The chief election commissioner tried to contact the Punjab inspector general of police, commissioner and deputy commissioner on receiving information from the district returning officer (DRO) and returning officer (RO) so the whereabouts of the presiding officers concerned could be ascertained but received no response,” read the statement.
The Chief Election Commissioner contacted the Punjab Chief Secretary, who reassured that the results would be sent after tracing the ‘missing’ officers and polling bags; however, the Punjab Chief Secretary himself became “unavailable”, according to the ECP statement. The statement further said that the presiding officers appeared along with the polling bags around six in the morning.
“They took lives and abducted ECP staff; 20 presiding officers were made missing persons,” said Maryam criticising the government for the violence and massive violations of protocols during the polls. Why out of the 361 polling stations, the staff of only 20 polling stations had to go missing during the “fog” and why were the results of these polling stations suddenly changed when the officers returned after 12 hours, she said while raising questions on the government’s alleged cover up.
The PML-N Vice President also claimed that she has footage of a testimonial by a presiding officer claiming that unidentified men had arrived in a car and tried to pressure him to return with them with the ballot box instead of in the official ECP vehicle, which he had refused. “These evidences are coming out and they [government] have now fully come out into the open.”
Criticism on the Government
In a press conference on Saturday, Maryam said there is “irrefutable evidence” of rigging and the ECP “charge sheet against the government” who doubted fair play in polling. “There was firing, polling was slowed, people were killed and bags of votes were stolen.” she said, “the ECP was looking for you, where was the Punjab government?”
“Where was the chief minister, the chief secretary, the police, the inspector general and the administration” during the violence that broke out and why they were missing in action. She had called for cases to be registered against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Prime Minister Imran Khan for allegedly “trying to steal votes and martyring two individuals,” she added.
“Does someone’s phone stop working during foggy weather? That as a group [they] suddenly all vanish […] the election commission was helpless trying to find them and no one is listening to the ECP.”
The PML-N leader called upon the ECP to regain “its lost respect” by taking strict action against those who are responsible for the mismanagement and violation of protocols during the by-election.