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Wednesday December 01, 2021

Maryam terms ECP statement on NA-75 by-polls 'charge sheet against govt'

PML-N demands a re-election in the entire constituency in view of ECP statement and "evidence" shared

By Web Desk
February 20, 2021
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz addressing a press conference, on February 20, 2021. — YouTube

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Saturday said that the Election Commission of Pakistan's statement regarding the by-poll held in NA-75 Sialkot-IV a day earlier, is a "charge sheet against the government".

Her remarks came during a press conference, the purpose of which was to "expose" alleged rigging in the constituency by "PTI people". Throughout the briefing, the PML-N vice president  aired videos as "proof" of the said rigging.

She said that following the ECP's statement and the "evidence" shared by the party, it now demands a re-election in the entire constituency.

The ECP had, earlier in the day, announced it is withholding results due to suspected rigging through vote swapping.

Maryam, in her briefing, thanked the party workers and the people of Daska and Nowshera who "guarded their votes" and "caught the thieves" who had allegedly stolen votes.

She said they wrung free the votes from "a crocodile's grip".

Maryam also extended condolences to the families of the two people who died a day earlier during violence amid the by-polls.

'Plan made for Wazirabad and Daska'

Speaking of the violence that occurred a day earlier during by-polls, the PML-N leader said that a "plan" was made in Wazirabad and Daska because it was "clear that PML-N was in the lead" there.

She said in Nowshera, the government did not see the PML-N's victory coming, because it had not won there before.

Maryam claimed the government's own camps were "empty" and there was a lot of "visible support" for the PML-N.

"So they resorted to firing in broad daylight (in Daska and Wazirabad). There is a video in which you can see the PTI candidate, his relatives firing," the PML-N vice president alleged, adding that it led to the tragic deaths of "two children".

A video was then played showing the said candidate with a red circle marked around him for identification.

"A video never lies," Maryam said. "When there is evidence, it is shown. Allegations are not levelled just like that."

The PML-N vice president then went on to raise questions as to what was being done inside polling stations with the doors shut, when there was still time to cast votes. She said it prompted queues to form outside of PML-N voters who waited for hours to be allowed inside.

She said desperate voters, when time was about to draw to a close, started banging on the doors and forced their way inside.

"When they were unable to keep them out, they resorted to run away with bags of votes," Maryam said.

"This is Wazirabad I am speaking of. The presiding officer was caught red-handed with a white bag full of votes [...] we caught him in the presence of Rangers," she said.

Maryam said that the government "did not stop at that". "They then proceeded to disappear around 20 staff of the Election Commission," she claimed, referring to events in the NA-75 Sialkot-IV.

"We don't know where they were kept for 14 hours and what they had them do," she added.

She said there were claims of "fog". "Why were their phones turned off the entire duration?" she asked.

ECP's statement 'charge sheet against govt'

Maryam then discussed the Election Commission's press release which stated that results were obtained with considerable delay and contact could not be established with presiding officers.

"Even Election Commission did not know where their officers had disappeared," she said.

She said even the ECP is saying their officers were "held hostage" and has declared it suspects results were swapped.

Maryam said the ECP's statement is a "big charge sheet" against the "fake government".

She also cast aspersions on the voter turnout in many polling stations which, she said, according to graphs, "previously had a voter turnout of 30-35% and then mysteriously, after the disappearance of presiding officers, shot up to 80-90%".

She further said party worker Ataa Tarar "sat down with a returning officer and it was found 900 votes were cast where only 600 were registered".

"This occurred in the span of 14 hours. Any more time and it would have shot up to 200%," Maryam said.

She requested the ECP to restore the respect of the institution. "All the nation's eyes are on you [...] strict action must be taken against all the police officers, the administration officers, and the government representatives involved in this."

Maryam said they must do justice and justice "must be seen to be done".

The PML-N vice president "congratulated" Prime Minister Imran Khan for "losing the election despite historic rigging".

She also demanded a case be registered against PM Imran Khan and Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar over "vote theft" and the deaths of the two people who died.

To a question after the briefing, Maryam said the PML-N demands a re-election in the entire NA-75 Sialkot-IV constituency, alleging that polling was deliberately "slowed down" there.

She said the party's "legal minds" will sit down and deliberate the way forward, adding that a request has already been submitted to the ECP.

NA-75 results withheld after controversy

By-polls, in total, were held in four constituencies: NA-45 Kurram-I, NA-75 Sialkot-IV, PP-51 Gujranwala-I and PK-63 Nowshera-III.

The results of the NA-75 by-poll were withheld on Saturday by the returning officer on the PML-N’s request amid a controversy surrounding 23 presiding officers who had allegedly "gone missing".

According to preliminary data obtained by Geo News from 337 of the 360 polling stations in NA-75, PML-N is in the lead with 97,588 votes. PTI candidate Ali Asjad Khan has so far obtained 94,541 votes.

Meanwhile, unofficial results from all polling stations of the PP-51 Gujranwala-I constituency showed that PML-N's Begum Talat Mahmood won with 53,903 votes.

Similarly, unofficial results from all 102 polling stations in the PK-63 Nowshera-III constituency showed that PML-N's Ikhtiyar Wali won the election with 21,122 votes.

Unofficial results obtained for NA-45 Kurram-I from all 134 polling stations showed that PTI candidate Malik Fakhar Zaman won the election with 16,911 votes while JUI-F’s Jameel Chamkani bagged 15,761 votes.

'PTI people caught red-handed'

Maryam's announcement on Twitter comes a day after after she sought to sound the alarm, on what she claimed, was theft of votes by PTI members, as counting in the by-polls continued.

Maryam released a series of "bombshell" videos as supposed proof of the claim.

She claimed that "PTI people were caught red-handed stealing bagfuls of votes". She said PML-N MPA Adil Chatta and Ataa Tarar were the ones to have caught the "culprits".

The PML-N vice president had earlier urged PML-N supporters who had "bravely" cast their votes, especially in Daska, Wazirabad and Nowshera, amid violence, to "guard their votes", as counting of ballot papers began.

"I request the PML-N workers, especially from Daska, Wazirabad and Nowshera that the way they cast their votes with courage and determination amid thuggery by PTI government representatives and police, to display the same resolve and guard their votes," she wrote, in a message on Twitter, soon after polls closed at 5pm.

Friday saw a day of voting marred by violence, which saw the deaths of two and injury to at least eight people.

Clashes had broken out between PTI and PML-N workers in the Daska constituency, with each accusing the other of instigating violence to affect voter turn out.