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July 27, 2018

PSP questions transparency of polls as it rejects results


July 27, 2018

Rejecting the results of Wednesday’s general elections, the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) has questioned the transparency of the entire polling process, as the ballot papers were counted without the presence of the stakeholders.

This was the PSP’s first election after former Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders Mustafa Kamal and Anis Kaimkhani formed the party in March 2016 on their return to the country from self-exile. While the party’s popularity rose in the past two years, it failed to enter parliamentary politics

Addressing a news conference on Thursday, PSP Senior Vice-Chairman Dr Sagheer Ahmed said that due to some dubious actions, the entire election seems a mere joke. “Nobody knows where the election commission conducted the ballot count and how.”

Nearly all the parties, except the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf that is leading the elections, have expressed their reservations about the results, claiming that their polling agents were forced out of the voting stations at the time of the ballot count.

“How is it possible to count votes without the polling agents being present?” Ahmed wondered, saying that if a ballot box is put away even for a minute, the polling process becomes suspicious. “We reject this election because it does not seem transparent.”

He said that even after the passing of 25 hours he did not get a single final result of the constituencies where his party’s candidates were fielded.

He criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary for his remark that a delay of two hours does not matter, asking who should be questioned over this lapse.

He added that the ECP is praising itself for the “fair elections, regardless of the fact that it destroyed the Constitution”. “Since our childhood we were told that our vote denotes trust and casting it is the duty of every citizen. But the ECP does not seem to accept this.”

He complained that according to the ECP’s code of conduct no political party is allowed to set up a camp within 100 metres of a polling station, yet some parties violated this rule but the authorities did not bother to remove them.

He said the PSP’s polling agents were harassed and barred from performing their duties, adding that deliberate measures were taken to affect the election process.

Ahmed said that to make the turnout appear low, smaller buildings were chosen for polling stations, because of which a number of people were deprived of their right to vote, as they could not enter the premises before 6pm.

In Karachi the PSP had fielded candidates in all 21 National Assembly and 44 provincial assembly constituencies. Not a single candidate of the party, including PSP chief Kamal who was contesting for NA-253 and PS-124, was able to win, according to the results hitherto available.

Just 10 days ago, however, Kamal had said that he already had the mandate for Karachi and that voting would only be a formality on the day of the elections. “We may not be able to compete with our rivals in terms of financial resources, but we can thwart them with our passion and patriotism,” he said addressing his party’s rally in Surjani Town.

Highlighting his term as the mayor of the city as an “exemplary” one, he said that if the PSP were to win, the party would remake Karachi of 2005 and 2010 within six months.

Winning the Central-I constituency had seemed like a matter of prestige for the PSP, as Kamal was contesting for both the NA-253 seat as well as the PS-124 seat.

PSP Senior Vice-Chairman Waseem Aftab had insisted that a majority of the constituents supported Kamal for his stance against the “mafia” that held Karachi hostage for three decades as well as for his development work across the city during his tenure as mayor.

“Within two years the PSP has emerged as the most popular political party in Karachi. Unlike the MQM, we have also set our feet in non-Mohajir localities such as Kati Pahari and Lyari. This gives credence to our message of peace and harmony.”

Aftab had claimed that the people would vote for the PSP in the elections and the party would emerge as the leading political party, at least in the urban centres of the province.

The PSP leader said the MQM was facing backlash wherever its leaders went to ask for votes because the party did nothing for the public while it had the chance.

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