Pakistan: Maryam Nawaz alleges fraud in Punjab bypoll; suspects role of military

M Zulqernain
·3-min read

Lahore, Feb 20 (PTI) Pakistan Muslim League (N) vice president Maryam Nawaz on Saturday accused the country's military establishment of abducting over 20 election officials to rig the by-poll in Punjab province in favour of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

At least two political workers were killed during the by-election to the National Assembly seat NA-75 in Daska, over 80 kms from provincial capital Lahore, on Friday, when clashes broke out, including an incident of shooting, between the supporters of the PTI and the PML-N.

'At least 20 presiding officers of as many polling stations have been abducted on Friday evening along with the ballot boxes to change the NA-75 results. This incident has the signature of ‘Khalai Makhlooq’ (a reference to the Army and the intelligence agency). This incident is similar to that of breaking into my room in Karachi,' Maryam Nawaz said at press conference here on Saturday. On the intervening night of October 18 and 19, Maryam's husband and deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar had been arrested from his hotel room in Karachi by the Pakistan Rangers.

Earlier on Saturday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) withheld the result of the constituency in Daska, following reports of the missing election officers. The ECP also expressed doubt over the results of 20 polling stations in NA-75.

'The results of the NA-75 constituency were received with unnecessary delay. We tried to contact the presiding officers of some 20 polling stations several times but with no success,' the ECP said in a statement.

The ECP further said: '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.' Maryam Nawaz said the military should distance itself from the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

'I want to advise the Khalai Maqlooq to distance itself from its ‘incompetent selected’ Imran Khan to save its dignity among the masses,” she said, and alleged that both the selected and selectors had gone to every extent to steal the by-poll but they failed.

She said men in plainclothes had abducted the ECP staff and kept them in detention for more than 14 hours.

“During the detention the results of those 20 polling stations were changed in which the polling turnout was shown 90 per cent compared to the other 330 polling stations (recording) 35 per cent. Only the Khalai Makhlooq and defeated Imran Khan government can do such (a) thing,” she alleged, demanding the ECP to hold fresh by-poll in NA-75.

The PML-N vice president further said the ECP's statement regarding the NA-75 by-poll is a 'charge sheet' against the Imran Khan government.

PTI leader and Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz, however, has claimed victory in NA-75, saying 'results received by our polling agents in NA-75 Daska suggest we have won the election by over 7,000 votes. An election we had lost by over 30,000 in the last election.' PTI MZ IND IND