- Ex-PM Abbasi, Shehbaz Sharif’s petition seeking votes recount rejected, Abbasi’s supporters block Murree traffic in protest
- MMA holds protest across KP over alleged rigging, ANP calls protest on Monday
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: As the recounting of votes in different constituencies across Pakistan began on Saturday, several protests demonstrations were held across the country against alleged rigging in the general election 2018, as well as against the rejection of votes recount requests of certain candidates.
Among the constituencies where votes are being recounted are Multan’s NA-154 and NA-157, NA-131 Lahore, Faisalabad’s NA-108 and NA-106, NA-230 Badin among others.
Earlier in the day, independent candidate Abdul Hayi Dasti from PP-270 Muzaffargarh was announced the winner as after the recount, he was leading against Pakistan Awami Raaj (PAR) candidate Muhammad Ajmal Khan by a margin of 17 votes. According to unofficial results announced by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Ajmal Khan was leading with 17,669 votes, while Hayi was the runnerup with 17,645 votes.
The application by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Abid Sher Ali and Saad Rafique, as well as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Aleem Khan were accepted by the returning officers (ROs) Khan.
Rafique challenged victory of his opponent Imran Khan in the NA-131 constituency of Lahore, alleging that the presiding officer deliberately rejected hundreds of votes. The PTI chief won the NA-131 with 84,313 votes, while Rafique got 83,633 votes.
PML-N’s Abid Sher Ali challenged PTI’s Farrukh Habib victory in NA-108 Faisalabad.
PTI’s Aleem Khan requested a recount in NA-129, After accepting the application, the RO summoned PML-N leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Aleem Khan for re-tabulation of votes.
In the final result, PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq got 103,021 votes from NA-129, while Aleem Khan got 94,879 votes.
The recounting was also allowed in NA-108, NA-106, Multan’s NA-154 and NA-157 constituencies.
Security was increased as police and army personnel were allocated outside the ECP office.
A petition for votes recounts by former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was rejected by the returning officer for ex-premier’s home constituency NA-57. Shahid Khaqan had received 124,705 votes against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Sadaqat Ali Abbasi, who secured 136,249 votes.
Following the rejection of Shahid Khaqan’s application, protest demonstrations were staged in Murree and the roads were blocked.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif also requested for a votes recount in NA-249 Karachi, but his request was turned down stating that objections should have been raised by the polling agent during the election process.
Shehbaz Sharif received 34,626 votes but lost by a narrow margin to PTI’s Faisal Vawda, who won by securing 35,344 votes. Shehbaz Sharif also lost from NA-3 Swat, NA-192 Dera Ghazi Khan but won from NA-132 Lahore.
On Friday, a multi-party conference called to devise a joint strategy over alleged rigging in the General Elections 2018 rejected the results of the poll, demanding a “transparent re-election”, but the major party objecting to the conduct of the polls – PML-N – is seemingly in two minds over launching a protest movement outside the parliament.
Even though, they have refused to accept the results, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has decided to become part of the parliament while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is sitting on the fence as its president Shehbaz Sharif has sought time from the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA)-led group to take a decision on whether they will be joining the parliament or not.
In attendance at the APC were PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Senator Sirajul Haq, Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, National Party President Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo and several MMA leaders.
Following the multi-party moot, Fazlur Rehman, flanked by Shehbaz Sharif and other leaders, announced the moot’s decision to reject the electoral result and demanded “transparent re-election”.
PROTESTS AGAINST RIGGING:
On Saturday, protest rallies were organised in Dera Ismail Khan, Orakzai, Buner, Lakki Marwat, Mardan, Malakand, Battagram, Karak and Lower Dir on Fazlur Rehman’s call.
The protesters blocked the Karakoram Highway, the land route between Pakistan and China, for traffic for more than five hours to protest against alleged rigging and manipulation of the election results. Hundreds of activists of various religious parties took out a protest rally from a mosque in the Peshawar city that turned into a big public meeting at Bajauri Gate.
The protesters were carrying placards and banners and chanted slogans against the Election Commission of Pakistan, caretaker setup and the other state institutions.
Addressing the protesters, the speakers alleged that billions of rupees were wasted on the rigged elections, adding that the judiciary should clear its position in that regard. They termed the polls a big fraud in the history of Pakistan as results were manipulated.
The speakers urged the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of what they said massive rigging in the elections. They alleged that foreign agenda was being imposed on the nation.
In Battagram, workers of Rah-e-Haq Party and MMA blocked Karakoram Highway to register their protest against the alleged fraud in the elections. The candidates who lost polls in the PK-29 constituency and their supporters led the rally, raising slogans.
In Lakki Marwat, the district chapter of JUI-F took out a rally in Naurang town to record their protest against alleged rigging in the elections.
In Buner, JUI-F workers staged a demonstration in front of the press club against the alleged rigging in the elections. The protesters said that they would not accept the poll results.
In Timergara, MMA losing candidates Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, Maulana Asadullah, Muzafar Said and others rejected the results of the election and demanded of the ECP to hold re-polling on all constituencies of KP.
The demand was made during different protest rallies at Chakdara and Talash which were attended by scores of MMA supporters.
The MMA candidates said that election was rigged and its results were made controversial.
Meanwhile, Awami National Party (ANP) central president Asfandyar Wali Khan has rejected the election results in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over alleged rigging and announced that his party would hold peaceful protests in all district headquarters of the province on July 30 (Monday).
Accusing the trio of ECP, army and caretaker government of keeping Pakhtun leaders out of the National Assembly, the ANP leader said that they all would sit together afterwards to finalise a future course of action.
Accompanied by ANP general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain and other leaders, who suffered defeat in the recent elections, Asfandyar said that in 2013, terrorists had tried to keep his party out of elections but this time around, that was done by the ‘trio’ of the ECP, Pakistan Army and the caretaker government.
In a veiled reference to the PTI and its chairman Imran Khan, the ANP chief said the elections were rigged to favour one party, especially its leader.
Asfandyar and his son, Aimal Wali Khan, have lost elections in their home district, Charsadda. Other key leaders of the party, including Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour and Syed Aqil Shah, also failed to win elections in their respective constituencies.
The ANP chief said that all Pakhtun leaders would discuss the future course of action against election rigging and for re-election.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) also announced on Saturday that it will protest against the election results.