- Imran Khan calls NA-122 loss a ‘moral victory’ for PTI as it had challenged PML-N which had govt power at its disposal
- Sarwar warns widespread protests if irregularities found in voters’ list; says election was a victory for PTI
- Aleem Khan and Aslam Iqbal allege pre-poll rigging by PML-N, claim govt commissioned surveys to single out PTI supporters
Apparently not the ones to accept their electoral defeat gracefully, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, including Imran Khan, on Monday again leveled charges of rigging against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which won a narrow victory in the bitterly fought by-polls in NA-122 on Sunday.
The PTI chief said that his party would counter the “rigging tactics by PML-N” that they “were not prepared for again”.
While PTI’s Abdul Aleem Khan lost the by-election in NA-122 to PML-N’s Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, PML-N candidate Mohsin Lateef was defeated by PTI’s Shoaib Siddiqui in PP-147 constituency, which falls within NA-122.
Khan who was absent from his party’s press conference which was held by Jahangir Tareen, Chaudhry Sarwar and Abdul Aleem Khan among others, said in his first comments since the loss that the outcome of the by-elections was a “moral victory for PTI” saying that this election would strengthen the PTI as it had challenged the PML-N with all its government power.
The PTI chief went on to say that his party would “learn from our mistakes”.
In a separate tweet, Khan said his party was investigating the number of “PTI votes thrown out of NA-122 at the last minute”, adding that they would approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the probe.
While no major complaints of rule violations or rigging had been received, the Commission said it had gotten around 35 smaller complaints in NA-122.
The PTI chief also congratulated Aleem Khan for “his hard work and persistence against two PML-N governmental machineries”.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Lahore, PTI leaders including Chaudhry Sarwar, Jahangir Tareen.and Abdul Aleem Khan accused PML-N of pre-poll rigging:
“NADRA and ECP officials on the instruction of PML-N government shifted many votes of PTI from NA-122 to other areas without the voters’ consent. The figure if probed properly may run into thousands. On the other hand a large number of PML-N voters from other localities were registered in NA-122. Our teams are collecting data to bring the real facts before the public,” PTI Punjab Organiser Chaudhry Sarwar claimed.
Sarwar warned widespread protests if PTI found irregularities in the voters’ list. He, however, added that PTI would ignore minor mistakes in the list and accept the result with a big heart.
“We were contesting against federal and Punjab governments and all their departments. All ministers using state machinery were canvassing for PML-N candidates. We did not lose but won the election. It is PTI’s victory and we should celebrate it. Our candidate bagged the Punjab Assembly seat. I would question PML-N’s large scale celebrations. They were contesting on three seats but won only one by only 2,400 votes, which is not a big margin they had been boasting about during the campaign,” Sarwar said.
Many of voters who cast votes in General Election in the area complained on Sunday (the polling day) that their votes had been shifted to other localities without their consent. They failed to find their names in voters’ list at polling stations. PTI claimed it was an engineered rigging by PML-N.
“PTI teams are reviewing the recently registered voters in NA-122 as to confirm whether they live in the area or not and why the real residents have been shifted to other localities,” he explained.
When asked why the PTI failed to point out irregularities in the voters’ list before the polls, Aleem Khan replied that the list had been given to them after the announcement of the election schedule.
“We did not have enough time to check the voters’ list. We were focusing on the campaign,” said Aleem.
Aleem alleged that there was a factory whose entire staff and their families’ votes had been transferred from other localities to NA-122. “Once we get the proof we will expose those behind this move,” he said.
Aslam Iqbal pointed out that the government had conducted poll survey through eight to 10 agencies in the area. He claimed that the residents of the area were being asked their names, identity card numbers and political affiliation by the survey teams. Later, he said, the government with the help of the survey reports excluded the PTI’s voters from the list and added PML-N voters from other areas into it.
“We are not going to spare those who committed this crime. We will launch protests after we find the proof,” announced the PTI leaders.