PTI workers facing ‘crackdown’ ahead of Sunday’s by-poll: alleges Raoof Hasan

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has alleged that party leaders and workers are facing a crackdown after the announcement of the by-poll schedule on 21 national and provincial seats, to be held today (Sunday).

“Raids are being conducted after the by-election announcement,” PTI’s Secretary Information Raoof Hasan said Saturday.

“Ill-treatment with the party workers’ families becomes a routine now,” he added.

The spokesperson of the Imran Khan-founded party further said that woman leaders, including Aliya Hamza Malik, Sanam Javaid and Dr Yasmin Rashid are still in jail.

He claimed that the jail authorities were not providing medical assistance to Malik who is suffering from malaria.

He further alleged that “returning officers (ROs) were being forced to sign blank papers”, and those are being “tortured” who have refused to follow the orders.

Elaborating on the party’s strategy, Hasan claimed that his party would try to give a big surprise in tomorrow’s electoral event.

The former ruling party also denounced the closure of mobile phone services during the by-election. “Internet was also closed on February 8 nationwide elections, and now, the closure of these services was being signalled, again,” criticised Hasan.

Earlier today, the Punjab authorities formally requested the federal government via a letter to suspend mobile internet services in the province’s 13 districts and tehsils on April 21 to maintain law and order situation.

According to the letter, the request for the suspension of mobile internet services has been made for Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Sadiqabad, Kot Chutta, and Dera Ghazi Khan districts.

Meanwhile, the tehsils where suspension is requested include Talagang, Chakwal, Kallar Kahar, Gujarat, Ali Pur Chatha, Zafarwal and Bhakkar.

Later, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said that in line with the directions of the Ministry of Interior, the cellular services will be temporarily suspended in certain districts of the two provinces for two days.

In the first major by-poll exercise after the Feb 8 elections, by-polls will be held in 21 national and provincial constituencies.

These include five NA seats; 12 Punjab Assembly, two each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies.

In Punjab, NA-132 (Kasur) and NA-119 (Lahore) — vacated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz — will see candidates up against each other on Sunday.

PM Shehbaz also gave up two of his provincial assembly seats in Lahore, PP-158 and PP-164, retaining his NA-123 seat in the National Assembly.

In Sindh, NA-196 (Qamber Shadadkot) will see a by-poll after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari vacated the seat.

In KP, the NA-44 (Dera Ismail Khan) seat was left vacant after provincial Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur retained his provincial assembly seat, PK-113, while by-polls will also be conducted in the NA-8 (Bajaur) constituency, which was left vacant after one of its candidates — Rehan Zeb Khan — was murdered ahead of the February 8 general elections.

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