PML-N senators warn against poll rigging



Senators belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Friday warned of a ‘strong reaction’ if the results of the countrywide elections due in less than a week did not reflect aspirations of the general public.

“It the results of this month’s polls does not reflect aspirations of the people of the country, there will be a strong reaction,” Senator Pervaiz Rashid, a senior leader of the PML-N, said participating in the discussions on the law and order situation in Senate.

The session requisitioned by of the PML-N and its allied parties witnessed thin attendance. Only around a dozen senators turned up on the first day of the new session.

The PML-N senators vowed that they would expose the forces that were helping certain parties win the July 25 general elections.

Rashid said his party would expose those who were involved in election engineering.

“Two years period was more than enough to damage someone. Still you have failed to convince common man. Please stop now and not spoil our own image further,” said the senator.

Without directly naming anyone, he said, “You have caused whatever damage you could inflict to a democratic party, please stop now and provide a level-playing field to all political parties in running the election campaign,” he added.

“I want to make it clear here, if the results of the elections will not be up to the expectations of the people, the reaction will be against those who helped certain parties win,” he said in a hard-hitting speech.

Mushahid Hussain Syed, who joined the PML-N a few months ago, said his party leader Nawaz Sharif “is being mistreated in jail”, adding the same treatment was meted out to Zulifqar Ali Bhutto in the same jail.

Criticising the NAB verdict that landed Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar to jail, he said it was preplanned.

He said the motive of announcing the verdict just a few weeks before the polls was to keep Sharif away from the election campaign.

They, he said, thought that Sharif would not return back and added it all backfired and he came back fully aware that he would be put behind bars.

Syed said the caretaker’s proved to be a flawed set-up and it should be abolished.

The senator, who also heads the PML-N media team, said he has presented a fact sheet to a visiting EU election monitoring mission to prove that candidates and sympathisers of the party are being intimidated.

“It this intimidation continued the PML-N will react. We will call it murder of justice.” he added.

Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi warned that “dark clouds are looming over the elections” and that the nation would have to bear a “heavy loss” if the situation didn’t change.

He said it was the ECP’s responsibility to hold free and fair elections, adding that, besides PML-N, other parties have also expressed reservations over the current circumstances.

He then went on to list several concerns of his party in the lead-up to the polls.

Abbasi claimed that political parties are not being allowed opportunities to conduct their election campaigns; that “filters are being installed” before the elections and that police personnel are hounding PML-N leaders.

“The [caretaker] government should tell us: what is our fault?” the senator asked. He also asked why the ECP had not issued directions to prevent arrests of political workers.

“[We] don’t see free and fair elections taking place in Pakistan,” he said, adding that the PML-N’s link with voters could not be broken by imprisoning its quaid Nawaz Sharif.

Abbasi also alleged that an atmosphere was being created for “one leader” to run his election campaign and urged the ECP to “open its eyes”.

“Don’t establish customs which you might regret tomorrow,” he cautioned. “Our reservations should be addressed.”

Winding up the debate, caretaker interior minister Azam Khan, said the government was taking all possible steps to provide security to the contestants.

He said after the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) shared threat alerts security of main leaders of the political parties has been enhanced.

He said Nacta has set up an election coordination and facilitation cell. “This cell is working round the clock to coordinates with provinces, the ECP and ICT administration for conduct of peaceful elections.”

He said army troops will be deployed inside and outside polling stations across Pakistan. “Provincial governments have been asked to make arrangements for installation of CCTV cameras at sensitive polling stations.”

Meanwhile, FAFEN in a press statement said that following the announcement of the election programme, it expanded the scope of its election observation from the district to the constituency level.

As part of its election observation methodology, Fafen randomly sampled 50 electoral areas in each National Assembly (NA) constituency.

In each sampled electoral area, Fafen interviewed three citizens, including women, to gauge citizen interest in participating in political gatherings and gather their views on the political environment, election campaign, and women’s freedom to vote.

Fafen observers also conducted an assessment of campaigning activities and recorded violations of ECP’s Code of Conduct in the sampled electoral areas.

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