Ghani asks PML-N to identify single polling station where rigging took place

Ghani asks PML-N to identify single polling station where rigging took place

KARACHI: The Sindh Education and Labour Minister, Saeed Ghani, has asked the former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to identify a single polling station of NA-249 where rigging took place in the April 29 by-election in Karachi.

Speaking at a press conference here on Sunday, Saeed Ghani said not a single contesting political party had complained about rigging from the start of polling till the counting of votes on the day of by-poll.

He said the PML-N leaders — Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Muhammad Zubair and Miftah Ismail — themselves had reached the office of returning officer by 10 pm on the day of the election.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, the presiding officers had sent the results of their respective polling stations by 11 pm on April 29, he said. Ghani,who is also President of Karachi chapter of PPP, said the PML-N was under obligation to present proof to support their objections to the results of the by-poll.

“After losing the by-election, we were accused of being backed by the ‘Selectors’. In response, we would like to pose a counter question to the accusers that whether or not selectors had backed their recent by-election victories in Daska, Wazirabad and Nowshera,” he said.

Ghani disclosed that some 10 days before the by-poll, he had contacted PML-N leader Zubair and informed him that they had selected an ineligible candidate for the by-poll as it would now be smooth sailing for the PPP in by-election.

He said PML-N leader Zubair had himself suggested not to hold by-election in Karachi during the ongoing Covid-19 health emergency.He alleged that the PML-N and other political parties were not sincere to send packing incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

The Sindh minister said the FAFEN (Free and Fair Election Network) in its report had mentioned some procedural irregularities and lacunas in the by-poll but it also didn’t identify a single polling station, where any blatant act of rigging had taken place on the polling day.

Ghani said the PPP had contested the NA-249 by-election with a proper electoral strategy. He said his party had constituted a committee for every polling station of the constituency for contesting the by-poll.

He claimed that the People’s Party had been in contact with the activists of different political parties in the constituency as several of them had joined the PPP. He said they were keen that the PPP’s candidate would have secured over 25,000 votes had there been a better voter turnout in the constituency.

To a question, Saeed Ghani said Bilawal Bhutto’s political stature is bigger than all the politicians in the country.He said ineligibility, mismanagement and over-confidence were the reasons behind the PML-N’s defeat in the by-election.

Instead, the PPP took the by-election quite seriously and contested it after complete preparation and that is why the Peoples Party’s candidate won the constituency, he added. Meanwhile, in a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sindh Secretary-General and party candidate for NA-249 by-polls Miftah Ismail on Sunday appreciated him for issuing ‘stay orders’ against the consolidation of results of by-polls that was held on April 29. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday stayed the process for consolidation of results in the NA-249 constituency and fixed May 4 (Tuesday) as the date for hearing of Miftah Ismail’s application seeking a recount of votes.

Miftah Ismail has asked the ECP to take in its custody all the election material, including ballot papers, in the sealed condition, immediately. He demanded that the election material should be taken by the ECP immediately in sealed condition and kept at a safe place under the supervision of Rangers or the army till a final decision is taken on his application.

“There is no hesitation in saying that most of the polling staff and presiding officers were from the Sindh government and they favoured the ruling party [PPP] in an illegal manner, as complained by almost every contesting parties/candidates,” Ismail said.

Ismail said there is a strong likelihood that ballot papers, counterfoils of issued ballot papers, marked copies of the electoral rolls, paper accounts and other related election material may be have been tampered to frustrate the whole electoral process.

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