A clash between ‘Naya Pakistan’ and ‘Roshan Pakistan’ was witnessed at the famous Liberty Chowk when a peaceful and apolitical protest, initiated to make voters aware of their rights, turned into a tug of war between supporters of the PML-N and the PTI.
Though CEC Fakhruddin G Ebrahim had on Saturday declared the elections as having been conducted transparently, the general public, especially the educated middle class, have strong reservations regarding the polls and have even questioned its status of being ‘free and fair’.
On Sunday, a group of young and concerned voters came together to plan a hasty but peaceful protest at Lahore’s Liberty Chowk to demand the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) take immediate notice of rigging allegations pouring in from Lahore and other parts of Pakistan.
At 6:30 in the evening, crowds of young men and women started pouring towards Liberty Chowk while carrying placards inscribed with legitimate demands pressed forward by young voters who felt that their rights had been trampled upon, that the vicious cycle of corruption might not have ended after all.
“These elections were supposed to be free and fair. This time around I passionately went out to vote because I believed that the youth should come forward,” Zeest Malik, a member of the protest organising committee stressed in a dejected voice. “What the youth witnessed at polling stations was that those ballot papers that should otherwise have been cast, were being torn by workers of certain political parties. The ECP is answerable to the masses for witnessing such misconduct and sleeping over it,” she added.
In the meantime, the location started gaining heat when young PTI supporters joined the protest, which was otherwise supposed to be an apolitical and peaceful affair. Several young ‘tabdeeli Razakaars’ brought their party flags along and started raising political slogans. During this time, a large number of PML-N supporters started hurling insulting and offensive words and gestures at the protesting crowd. Wave after wave of PML-N supporters started making rounds of the chowk and showing no concern for fellow citizens, blocked the flow of traffic by parking their cars and motorcycles in front of the protestors. Police personnel standing on the side of the road had to rush in to stop any confrontation from taking place.
Hot headed and hot blooded youth from both sides confronted each other and tension gradually started rising when harsh words were exchanged between the supporters of the two ‘true-blue’ political parties. While the PTI supporters started calling the N-Leaguers ‘Jahil’, the latter were keenly targeting the women by hurling sleazy and derogatory remarks at them.
The police team standing at the venue seemed more tilted in favour of the PML-N supporters. Instead of going after the unruly youths who disrupted the important protest, the police started threatening peaceful protestor of dire consequences if they did not break their line. In one such incident, the police officer of Gulberg police station, namely Mustaneer Ahmad, threatened a protestor Samina Latif and even pushed her slightly to one side.
Samina said Mustaneer said all women would be left at the mercy of hooligans, who would be given a free hand to do whatever they want.
Another member of the protest organizing committee, Madiha Latif, said, “Rigging allegations were rampant after the 2008 elections and ample proofs surfaced afterwards that should have been properly investigated. It never happened back then, and now the ghosts of the past have come to visit us once more.”
In Lahore’s Defence as well, PTI workers and supporters gathered on Ghazi Chowk in NA-125 to protest against the election held on May 11, 2013.
Report said the contest held between two candidates PML-N Khawaj Saad Rafiq and PTI’s candidate Hamid Khan in which PML-N candidate Khawaj Saad Rafiq won the contest from NA-125.
On Sunday, workers of PTI gathered in large members at Ghazi Road to protest against the Election Commission of Pakistan. The protesters said Khwaja Saad Rafique won the election by cheating and rigging and demanded the government to take strong action against him and cancel his seat.
They also demanded re-polling in NA-125.
A massive protest was held in Karachi’s Clifton area as well at Teen Talwar Chowk.
PTI supporters came out on streets of Karachi to protest alleged rigging during the general elections.
A large number of people, including females, turned out, chanting slogans against the ECP and political parties.
The group continued to chant slogans in favour of the PTI chairman Imran Khan and the PTI candidate contesting from NA-250, Arif Alvi.