ISLAMABAD: Amid allegations of massive rigging and to stop results notifications of all 21 national and provincial assembly seats, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday announced to hold nationwide rallies on April 26 to protest the results of Sunday’s by-elections.

Speaking at a presser, PTI secretary general Omar Ayub along with party chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, and Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) chief Hamid Raza, said that the by-polls were “blatantly rigged” in Gujrat, Sheikhupura, Lahore and elsewhere in the country, leaving the party with no option but to take to the streets to hold massive protests against the results.

“We’re going to give a protest call this Friday in all the four provinces,” said Ayub, adding, “The protests would follow in Faisalabad, Karachi and other parts of the country soon.”

He said that Sunday’s by-elections could not be called transparent as it was complete farce in which only taxpayers’ money was wasted on a futile exercise.

He said that the returning officer in Bajaur wrote a letter regarding threats by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officers, who openly put pressure and harassed the polling staff in that area.

He demanded that both letters written by six judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) and RO Bajaur pertaining to the agencies’ role of meddling in the judicial and electoral process should be investigated thoroughly.

“I call on the heads of all intelligence agencies, working in Pakistan, to probe into the allegations leveled against their respective agencies and apologise to the nation for interfering in the election and judicial matter,” he added.

He reiterated that five agencies operating in Pakistan which include the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Special Branch, ISI, Field Intelligence Unit (FIU), and Military Intelligence (MI) and their heads should come clean as to why they interfered in the election process.

He vowed that they would raise these points on the floor of the house emphatically and would not rest until the issue is taken to its logical end.

Speaking on the occasion, Gohar Ali Khan said that April 21 was a “black day for democracy” in the country, as all limits of decency were crossed to rig the polls in broad daylight.

“I have neither seen such blatant and open violation of law nor have I heard of it…we demand the election commission that those who rigged the polls in Punjab, their notification be withheld,” he declared.

Gohar said that he along with the opposition leader in the National Assembly paid surprise visits to different polling stations across Punjab, and the rigging which they witnessed at all the polling stations was shameful and disgusting.

“We instantly brought all this to ECP’s notice particularly the massive rigging in Gujrat but the electoral body is yet to wake up from the deep slumber,” he regretted.

He said that the “Constitution, democracy and rule of law are virtually suspended in the country given what we got to see during Sunday’s by-polls.”

The SIC’s Hamid Raza said that “our polling agents were thrown out and the returning officers forced them to put their signatures on Forms 45s well-ahead of the polling process.”

He said that Punjab Police harassed the party voters through a pre-planned strategy to rig the polls, which is a crime, adding the inaction by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) raises suspicion over its claims of having conducted free and fair general elections.

He said that the ECP was seen nowhere to ensure free and fair elections despite concrete evidence shared by the voters on social media, adding this shows the ECP is hand in glove with those behind rigging the polls.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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