PTI alleges blocking of Pakhtun CNICs in NA-120

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–Will hold sit-in if concerns are not addressed: Yasmin Rashid

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has alleged that the Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) of thousands of Pakhtun voters in NA-120 have been blocked by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), which is tantamount to pre-poll rigging and is being done at the behest of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi disclosed this information while taking to media persons in Lahore on Thursday.

He was accompanied by PTI’s candidate from NA-120 Dr Yasmin Rashid, Punjab former Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Information Secretary Shafqat Mehmood and campaign in charge for PP-140 Ijaz Chaudhry.

“There are thousands of Pakhtun voters living in Union Councils 50 and 51 that fall in NA-120 and according to recent election trends, the Pakhtun vote usually goes for Imran Khan. Blocking their CNICs ahead of the election is pre-poll rigging and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) must take action to resolve this most important matter,” Qureshi said. He was of the view that one cannot cast the vote without having a CNIC and it will have drastic impacts on the turn-out, keeping in view that normally, the turnout remains low in the by-elections. Moreover, he said that there are 20 polling stations where voters have the same family number but their votes have been shifted to different polling stations. A father and his son may have their vote in the same polling station while the votes of the mother and the daughter will be in another far away polling station; he said that this too would affect the turn-out.

Talking about the election campaign of Dr Yasmin Rashid, Qureshi said that he personally wants to run campaign for her but ECP has barred him from doing so, while on the other hand, ministers and parliamentarians are busy in running the election campaign of Kalsoom Nawaz which is against the laws of ECP. “I personally met with the chief election commissioner and requested him to allow me to run the campaign as I do not hold any public office except for being an MNA from an opposition party but he turned down my application”, he said.

Complaining that PTI does not have level-playing field in NA-120, Qureshi questioned the protocol being given to Maryam Nawaz during her campaign as her protocol staff seals the entire area when she enters for canvassing; even PTI’s candidate is not allowed to conduct her campaign at that time. According to him, ECP has failed to get its writ implemented in the by-election of NA-120 and it can also be feared that nothing will be changed in the General Elections of 2018 which would be an ominous sign for democracy.

Meanwhile, PTI’s candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid held a meeting with the returning officer of NA-120 in the office of Election Commission and complained to him regarding the ongoing development work in the constituency, despite the ban imposed by the ECP. Dr Yasmin Rashid also said that the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) removes the banners and flexes of PTI despite the fact that she has paid a hefty amount of Rs 190,000 to PHA for these banners. The returning officer sent the second notice to Lahore’s mayor for violating the code of conduct, seeking his reply within three days and asked him to immediately stop the development work in the area.

Yasmin Rashid, while addressing the media upon her visit in the constituency, said that the party has various options, including holding a sit-in, if its concerns over NA-120 by-poll are not addressed.

Rashid demanded that the ECP take notice of the violation of code of conduct by the ruling party. The PTI leader criticised PML-N for not paying heed to the needs of the constituency’s residents, saying PML-N should have started development here before the announcement of the polling schedule.

The party has expressed similar concerns, saying that ECP is not independent and works under the incumbent government.

 

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