ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday issued a detailed 234-page ‘white paper’ on alleged rigging and irregularities in February 08 general elections and demanded formation of a high-powered judicial commission to probe them.

Speaking at a presser, PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, along with opposition leaders in Senate and National Assembly, Shibli Faraz and Omar Ayub, respectively, claimed that the electoral process was marred by serious flaws and compromises. “We’d won 180 seats in February 8 general elections…our seats were given to other parties through Forms 47s,” he said, adding “we’ve filed a petition in Supreme Court against the alleged rigging, besides filing 158 petitions in different election tribunals, but our pleas are yet to be fixed for hearing”.

“We are issuing a white paper to bring it to the notice of the people as how their mandate was stolen and we will not rest unless our mandate is returned,” he maintained.

Referring to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s decision to declare the party’s intra-party polls as invalid, Barrister Gohar said that the party was forced to contest the general elections without its traditional bat electoral symbol. “Our victory was turned into defeat by manipulating election results in the Form 47,” he added.

The PTI chief said the white paper is based on the reports of international organisations, foreign media and newspapers’ report.

He also called for carrying out the electoral reforms to eliminate rigging in the polls once and for all.

The opposition leader in National Assembly, Omar Ayub, PTI secretary general said that the ECP was granted billions of rupees to hold free and fair elections in the country. “We demand the chief election commissioner to step down.”

Highlighted within the white paper are a myriad of concerns, including breaches of constitutional mandates for election procedures, allegations of bias in the caretaker government’s extended tenure, and purported instances of election manipulation aimed at marginalising PTI from the electoral arena.

One of the core contentions is the alleged violation of the constitutionally prescribed 90-day timeframe for conducting general elections, with PTI suggesting an unlawful extension of the caretaker government’s term. Besides, PTI points to what it dubs a “London plan” and the purported false flag operation on May 9th, involving violent incidents and assassination attempts targeting PTI figures and supporters.

The white paper accuses authorities of manipulating electoral rolls, censoring media coverage, rejecting PTI candidates’ nomination papers, and orchestrating internet shutdowns, all purportedly to sabotage PTI’s electoral prospects.

Evidence presented in the white paper spans from the pre-poll phase to the final government gazette notification, including statements from key officials like the Commissioner of Rawalpindi and a letter from the Returning Officer (RO) for NA-8 detailing alleged misconduct by his staff.

Beyond the immediate implications for electoral integrity, PTI emphasises the broader erosion of public trust in Pakistan’s democratic institutions. In response, PTI has proposed a series of measures to rectify the situation, including the Supreme Court’s intervention to investigate alleged electoral fraud and the formation of an independent judicial commission with powers to subpoena witnesses and access international election observers’ reports such as the EU Mission, PATTAN, PILDAT, FAFEN, Commonwealth Observers Group, and the US Institute of Peace.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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