Rigged polls harmful for country: Nawaz

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Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said that rigged and manipulated elections have always turned out to be horrible for the country and its people, and everything must be done to ensure that the polls next month are held in a free and fair atmosphere.

Speaking for the first time on Pakistani politics in nearly two weeks, since his arrival in London a day before Eid, the former premier said, “If elections are rigged and not held in a free and fair atmosphere then it will create further problems and instability in the country in future. It is best that the elections are held free and fair.”

Speaking about the arrest of Raja Qamarul Islam, PML-N’s candidate against disgruntled party leader Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Nawaz said that his arrest is “unfortunate” and such actions “create concerns.”

He said that Islam got “clean chit” a few days ago from the NAB but then he was arrested. “These things create concerns. Not only such actions should be avoided but should never happen,” he added.

When asked about his absence from the election process in Pakistan, the former premier said that he came to London to spend three to four days with his cancer-patient wife Kulsoom Nawaz but learned upon landing in London that she had suffered a cardiac arrest.

“I want to go back and participate in elections. I have attended nearly 100 NAB court appearances so that the cases against me should reach to some conclusion. I came to London for three to four days for Eid but what has happened is Allah’s will,” he said.

“I came here with different intention but now I have to stay here because of her situation. She is still on the ventilator and her situation has not changed much.”

When asked about reports in the western press about the alleged rigging of elections, he said that the whole world is witnessing what is happening.

“We should not make a laughing stock of ourselves because whenever elections have been rigged, results have been horrible for our country. We need to avoid that,” the former premier said.

Noting that what is being reported is reflective of what is happening in Pakistan, he said, “Not only Pakistan but the whole world is watching.”