RAWALPINDI: Senior MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi has said that delimitations were made in Karachi against Constitution and law, and electoral lists were got corrected in presence of the Army. Taliban terrorised the entire city, but our untiring efforts forced people to come out. Till the election day it seemed as if the city was in mourning. People came out wearing shrouds to elect their representatives. Now we see that the mandate we got after the elections is being objected to and protest is being made against the mandate. The situation is slipping from hands and it is apprehended that it may lead to a battle between burger and bun-kebab. If it happens like that, the city would witness a new division.
Rizvi expressed these views while talking via video link from Karachi to Hamid Mir, the host of Geo News programme ‘Capital Talk’ on Monday. Others who took part in the discussion on ‘Rigging in 2013 Elections’ were Mudassar Rizvi, chief executive officer of Free And Fair Election Network (Fafen), PML-N leader Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, and PTI Secretary Information Dr Shireen Mazari.
At the outset of the programme was shown a talk of Sabookh Syed with observers from the European Union. Head of the European Mission Michael Gahler and deputy head De Myer narrated the firsthand situation and expressed apprehensions about rigging at certain polling stations.During the discussion Geo News correspondent from D-Chowk Lahore gave details of the protest by the PTI.
Rizvi further said that if polling is not held at a station, this cannot be called rigging but the proper description would be ‘bad governance’. There has been bad governance on the part of Election Commission in Karachi. However, in order to uphold the concept of transparency and democracy, we are prepared to hold fresh polling at all the stations of NA-250. We have made this offer to clear the fog of doubts and apprehensions and truth will be out.
Fafen’s Mudassar said that the responsibility of transparent elections rested with the judiciary. Judicial and returning officers are solely responsible for any mismanagement during the electoral process. The ECP holds key to the remove doubts on the transparency of elections. The ECP installed CCTV cameras and got thumb impression at two places. Nadra possesses the entire database. The ECP has the necessary wherewithal to unearth rigging. It is not necessary to reject the entire electoral process. However, the areas where rigging or problems have been reported can be focused. It is time that modern technology is used to ensure that only genuine voter has cast his vote. Rigging of elections in Pakistan cannot be generalised as polling is held simultaneously in 272 constituencies and there may be different issues at different places. He added that people swarmed the polling stations in spite of fear and the turnout was around 60 percent. This is something that must be appreciated. He said the media focused on incidents of rigging in Karachi due to which rigging in Punjab was ignored. It looked as if elections were being held only in Karachi and nowhere else. Whereas the fact is that cases of mismanagement have occurred throughout Pakistan. Rigging in Lahore, Sialkot and Narowal should be considered as important as rigging in Karachi.
Dr Shireen Mazari said that there are visuals and evidence that elections have been rigged. “A large number of proofs of extensive rigging in the constituency of Khwaja Saad Rafiq are available on the social websites even now. Rapid Force was nowhere to be seen. At one polling station a Ranger was prohibiting voters to cast their vote. In one constituency the polling staff withheld the results after speech by Nawaz Sharif. And when the results were announced they were totally different. There was definite rigging in many Lahore constituencies. People belonging to agencies lifted our polling agent. We have demanded re-election in Karachi city. We do not say that the entire election was defiled but we do say that wherever law was violated, the ECP should have taken notice of that.” Dr Mazari further said that it is not correct on part of PTI workers to criticise the media and she would forcefully condemn the attitude.
Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said that the recent elections were fair and transparent and the Election Commission has an important role in that. There have been isolate reports of rigging from some polling stations, but we should not call the whole electoral process objectionable simply for that. The PTI lacks sportsman’s spirit. He further said that instead of ‘thrashing’ with bat, they should respect the popular mandate.